On October 21, 2020, Purdue Pharma pled guilty to three criminal charges as part of their $8 billion settlement surrounding the drug OxyContin, a drug that Purdue produced. The charges included: one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute. OxyContin was one of the highly addictive opioids that has been blamed for starting the national opioid epidemic, which has been linked to over 470,000 deaths in the United States in the past twenty years.
In addition to admitting that Purdue purposefully impeded the Drug Enforcement Administration, Purdue also admitted to violating the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits any physician or other individual from knowingly offering, paying, or soliciting remuneration to induce business payable by Medicare or Medicaid. Through a misleading program, Purdue induced physicians with payments to write more OxyContin prescriptions. Purdue also induced physicians to utilize an electronic health record that would influence the prescription of pain medicine, especially OxyContin.
In addition to admission of the above criminal charges, Purdue also entered a civil settlement with the government. The settlement will resolve the allegation that Purdue caused false claims to be submitted to government programs, in violation of the False Claims Act. It also civilly resolved Anti-Kickback Statute violations.