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Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty To Opioid Charges

by Landmark Recovery

November 10, 2020
A gavel used in court proceeding's regarding Purdue Pharma


Purdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty to a trio of criminal charges related to the opioid epidemic continuing to ravage the United States.


With more and more opioid settlement cases cropping up, what’s the latest with American giant Purdue Pharma?


What Are The Charges Against Purdue Pharma?

A man reviewing the charges presented against Purdue Pharma

The charges against Purdue Pharma include:


  • Marketing opioids to doctors that were suspected of writing illegal prescriptions
  • Violating federal anti-kickback laws
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States


Opioid class action lawsuits have been unfolding for years, but why is this?


Well, opioids are the primary driver of drug overdose deaths with 46,802 opioid overdoses in 2018 (almost 70% of all overdose deaths). Once the role of pharmaceutical companies became clear, thousands of people – including those who became heroin addicts after taking prescription opioids – sought justice.


The $8.3 billion deal announced by the US Justice Department this week is a historic settlement, but the chances of that money being paid as negotiated are negligible.


How did we get to this stage, though?


Purdue Pharma: Past Charges Related To The Opioid Epidemic

Purdue Pharma has long been viewed as central in the opioid epidemic that’s been ravaging the US since the 1990s.


Owned by the Sackler family, the company is accused of aggressively marketing OxyContin. In the mid-90s, the company’s marketing strategy shifted and started targeting all patients with chronic pain rather than relying on cancer patients for their market. This causes sales of the drug to spike from a modest $48 million (1996) to $1 billion (2000).


The success of this strategy hinged on duping physicians and researchers into believing opioids were safe, effective, and not habit-forming. By downplaying these addiction risks, physicians prescribed opioids more widely and at increased dosages. Resultantly, there have been many lawsuits globally against Purdue Pharma.


The federal government accused Purdue Pharma of misbranding OxyContin back in 2007. The company responded by settling these federal charges for $600 million.


In 2015, the company agreed to pay $24 million to Kentucky state, and they paid $270 million to Oklahoma state stemming from an opioid-related lawsuit.


So far, so good, but will this money ever be paid?


How Will Purdue Pharma Declaring Bankruptcy Impact These Charges?

A gavel used in court proceeding's regarding Purdue Pharma

Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy shortly after the hearing on September 15, 2020, in response to this lawsuit and more than 2000 others like it averaging $10 to $12 billion.


The company is now under court protection, guarded by chapter 11.


Members of the Sackler family also face civil penalties with all board members, active and inactive, fined $225 million.


So, whether the company with a $13 billion fortune largely accumulated through the sales of opioid painkillers pays their dues remains to be seen. At least this is another important victory in the ongoing war against opioid addiction.


What Comes Next?

Has your life become unmanageable when all you wanted was for opioids to relieve chronic pain? Perhaps you’re using more opioids than before, or maybe you’ve even resorted to doctor shopping to refill your prescriptions.


It doesn’t need to be that way. Here at Landmark Recovery, we help people like you every day, and we genuinely care. Whether you need residential rehab or an intensive outpatient program, call our admissions team today at 888-448-0302.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.