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Purdue Pharma to plead guilty and pay $8.3bn over opioid marketing

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 22 October 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4103
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Purdue Pharma, the company that became the unacceptable corporate face of the US opioid epidemic, will plead guilty to criminal charges as part of a legal settlement that resolves the federal government’s allegations against it. But the partly UK based Sackler family that owned and directed the company will be spared prosecution in a deal that critics say allows family members to profit from the company’s crimes.

The $8.3bn (£6.3bn; €7bn) settlement includes a criminal fine on the company of $3.5bn, a civil settlement of $2.8bn,1 and criminal forfeiture of $2bn. But the sum is largely symbolic, as Purdue is a bankrupt company with thousands of other litigants likely to number among its creditors. Much of the profit from two decades of marketing OxyContin was transferred years ago to the …

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