In an admission that brought a resolution to the role of Purdue Pharma LP in the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S., the pharmaceutical took a deal with federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to the criminal charges filed over the handling of painkiller OxyContin.
On Tuesday, a court hearing on the charges was done remotely. Purdue stood before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo and pleaded guilty to all three felonies that covered the misconduct.
Purdue's criminal violations included paying doctors and Practice Fusion, an electronic records vendor of illegal kickbacks, and conspiring with U.S. officials to help them keep the opioid prescriptions flowing.
Meanwhile, the billionaire Sackler family, who owns Purdue, were not present in the court proceedings held on Tuesday, and they have also not been criminally charged.
In October, the family agreed to pay a civil penalty amount of $225 million for their alleged involvement in causing false claims for OxyContin to bring it into healthcare programs from the government like Medicare.
Despite paying the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fine, the family denied the allegations against them.
According to The Epoch Times, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Stephen Ferketic stated that officials have the right to prosecute anyone associated with the pharmaceutical company; this includes its owners, directors, and officers.
However, the Sackler family stated that when they were on the board of Purdue, they acted responsibly and ethically. They also added that they were given assurance that the marketing and sales practices of the company complied with the regulatory and legal requirements.
During the court hearing, Steve Miller, the current chairman of Purdue, made the guilty plea on behalf of the company. He also admitted to the criminal conduct while he was being questioned by Ferketic, CBS reported via MSN.
The plea deal that Purdue took involved penalties that are worth more than $5.5 billion; however, most of it would go unpaid. The criminal fine of $3.54 billion is set to be considered, as well as trillions of dollars, which are part of unsecured claims that come with the company's bankruptcy proceedings.
Purdue has also recently settled a different Justice Department civil claims, where they agreed to a $2.8 billion penalty.
Several Democrats have targeted the pharmaceutical's plea deal and other settlements related to their case in Capitol Hill, who called for more severe consequences for Purdue and its owners for their involvement in the country's opioid crisis.
Purdue made more than $30 billion in revenue over the years from the sales of OxyContin. The said revenue is being pointed out by officials as further enriching the Sackler family, thus calling for the grave consequences, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Around 450,000 people have died after falling victim to opioid-related overdoses amid the U.S. opioid crisis since 1999.
Meanwhile, around two dozen attorney generals have expressed their opposition to Purdue's plea deal, claiming that it promotes using the bankruptcy plan as an escape route for companies facing criminal misconduct charges.
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