“The company can’t go to jail”: The Purdue Pharma settlement explained

Washington DC

(WTRF) – In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic the opioid epidemic rages on, both in West Virginia and across the country. 

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, is now taking responsibility for its part in supplying the drugs that created the crisis. 

The key for people to understand is that it’s the company that’s pleading guilty. The company can’t go to jail.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

Purdue Pharma will plead guilty to three federal criminal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating federal anti-kickback laws. 

What has many frustrated is that the family behind the company, The Sackler family, hasn’t been held fully accountable. 

The family itself will not be going to jail and a lot of people would like to see handcuffs placed on the Sacklers because they’re the ones, probably more than anyone in this country, who helped to fuel the opioid crisis that we’re still dealing with.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

But, that doesn’t mean the family or other company executives can’t face criminal charges in the future. 

It’s not a done deal yet and there are a lot of people that are hopeful that either a U.S. Attorney from some part of the country or state authorities somewhere in the United States will bring criminal charges against members of the Sackler family.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

For now, they must pay financial penalties as part of the $8.3 billion settlement. 

Purdue Pharma paid $225 million into this settlement. The family, the Sackler family, paid $225 million. The rest of it are fines and penalties and a forfeiture that will not perhaps ever be collected upon because Purdue Pharma doesn’t have $8 billion.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

State Senator Ihlenfeld said the money that is paid will go into the U.S. Treasury, and it remains to be seen if any will make it back here to the Mountain State; or to the communities that were damaged, families who lost a loved one or treatment centers helping those fighting to recover from addiction across the country.

The fact that it was handled by the United States Department of Justice will cause that money to go back to the treasury, go back to Washington D.C., that deep dark hole of Washington D.C. and we may never see any of it actually come back and benefit our communities here in West Virginia.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

However, there are other cases pending that may yield help with the fight. 

There’s still a lot of cases pending against Purdue Pharma right now. There are a lot of cases pending against wholesalers pending like McKesson and AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal. Those cases are still ongoing. Lawyers from right here in this area are part of those cases actively trying to bring money back to our communities.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

That money is needed ot help those struggling with addiction. 

Those groups that are on the front lines are are really making a difference one by one, person by person they’re making a difference in this in this fight, but they need resources.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

Because the fight against opioids doesn’t end with one major criminal case. 

We have children who are being born drug exposed everyday and so that’s a whole other piece to this. So, we’re going to be dealing with this for the next century. 

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

State Senator Ihlendfeld said he read one estimate that said West Virginia would need trillions of dollars to fully address the opioid problem. 

Right now I can tell you, from the state Legislature, and from that perspective we don’t have enough funding to be able to push out to all the different parts of the state that need it, so anything we could receive in the form of settlements or from the federal government would be very much appreciated.

State Senator Bill Ihlenfeld, (D) West Virginia 1st District

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