OxyContin Maker Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $8.3 Billion
Health Care

OxyContin Maker Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $8.3 Billion

George Frey

Purdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges for its role in creating the opioid crisis, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. The OxyContin maker will pay $8.3 billion in fines and penalties, which will be used to fund addiction treatment and abatement programs.

The charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws, according to the Associated Press.

The company, which declared bankruptcy last year, lacks the cash to pay the fines, and as part of the settlement the company it will be dissolved, with its assets rolled into a public company operated to benefit the American public. All earnings of the firm, which will continue to produce painkillers, will be used to pay fines and combat the addiction crisis.

The Sackler family, who earned billions of dollars operating Purdue, agreed to pay $225 million as part of a separate settlement with the Justice Department. The settlement does not eliminate the possibility that some members of the family could still be charged with additional federal crimes.

A fraction of the total cost: Purdue has been marketing OxyContin since 1995, when its time-release formula for oxycodone, an opium derivative, was approved by the FDA. Lawsuits from multiple state and local governments against the company suggest that the total cost of the opioid addiction crisis that it helped spark comes to more than $2 trillion over the last two decades.