The makers of the highly addictive prescription painkiller Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma LP, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to criminal charges in part of a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve an investigation into the drugmaker's role in the U.S. opioid crisis.
Of three total criminal counts against Purdue, two were for violating a federal anti-kickback law, and another charged them with defrauding the United States and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
During a court hearing conducted remotely on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in New Jersey, Purdue pleaded guilty to three felonies covering widespread misconduct.
The criminal violations included conspiring to defraud U.S. officials and pay illegal kickbacks to both doctors and an electronic healthcare records vendor called Practice Fusion here, all to help keep opioid prescriptions flowing.
Members of the billionaire Sackler family who own Purdue and previously sat on the company's board were not part of Tuesday's court proceedings and have not been criminally charged. They agreed in October to pay a separate $225 million civil penalty for allegedly causing false claims for OxyContin to be made to government healthcare programs such as Medicare. They have denied the allegations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Stephen Ferketic said officials reserved the right to prosecute individuals associated with Purdue, including owners, officers and directors. Sackler family members have said they acted ethically and responsibly while serving on Purdue's board and were assured the company's sales and marketing practices complied with legal and regulatory requirements.
Read the rest at Reuters: OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to criminal charges