Prescription bottle for Oxycodone tablets and pills on metal table

OxyContin Manufacturer Pleads Guilty and Faces More than $8 Billion in Fines

According to the NY Times, "Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the addictive painkiller, and faces penalties of roughly $8.3 billion, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday. The settlement could pave the way for a resolution of thousands of lawsuits brought against the company for its role in a public health crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999.

The company’s owners, members of the wealthy Sackler family, have agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties. Prosecutors said the agreement did not preclude the filing of criminal charges against Purdue executives or individual Sacklers."

The opioid problem in the United States has wrecked havoc among poor and rich, influential and humble, as well as famous and unknown.  However, the common denominator linking all of those who took Oxycontin is the addictive nature of the once popular drug.

OxyContin, which came on the market in the mid-90s, is seen as an early, ferocious driver of the opioid epidemic and Purdue is regarded as the architect of muscular, misleading drug marketing. But it is unlikely the company will pay anything close to the $8.3 billion negotiated in the settlement deal. That is because Purdue sought bankruptcy court protection amid the onslaught of lawsuits, and so the federal government will now have to take its place in a long line of creditors. Typically, creditors end up collecting pennies on the dollar in bankruptcy proceedings.

The tragedy in the Oxycontin saga is that people who could ill afford to suffer more ended up doing just that while the rich became richer as a direct result of the suffering of others.