By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) – Purdue Pharma, blamed for fueling the opioid crisis in the US, has agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts and pay a more than $8.3 billion settlement, US Justice Department said Wednesday.
"The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths, in addition to those caused by illicit street opioids," said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen at a news conference. "With criminal guilty pleas, a federal settlement of more than $8 billion, and the dissolution of a company and repurposing its assets entirely for the public’s benefit, the resolution in today’s announcement re-affirms that the Department of Justice will not relent in its multi-pronged efforts to combat the opioids crisis."
The company agreed to plead guilty in federal court in New Jersey to a three-count felony “with one count of dual-object conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute."
The agency noted that the criminal resolution includes the "largest penalties ever" levied against a pharmaceutical manufacturer. It includes a criminal fine of more than $3.5 billion, an additional $2 billion in criminal forfeiture and $225 million on the effective date of the bankruptcy.
"Purdue has also agreed to a civil settlement worth of $2.8 billion to resolve its civil liability under the False Claims Act. Separately, the Sackler family has agreed to pay $225 million in damages to resolve its civil False Claims Act liability," it added.
As part of the plea, Purdue will admit it conspired to defraud the US by impeding the lawful function of the Drug Enforcement Administration and continuing to market its opioid products to more than 100 health care providers. The company will also admit that it violated the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to write more prescriptions for the company’s opioids.