Drug Maker Pleads Guilty to Fueling Opioid Epidemic
The maker of OxyContin has pleaded guilty to several federal charges and has been ordered to pay a massive fine, which will force the company to shut down.
As part of a plea agreement, CNN reports that Purdue Pharma was levied a fine of $8.3 billion. It's a fine they don't have the money to pay. As a result, the company is being shut down and the U.S. Justice Department says it will start a "public benefit company" that will use money it makes to pay what Purdue Pharma can't.
OxyContin, a powerful painkiller often blamed as major contributor to America's opioid epidemic, will continue to be produced by the new company, due to a variety of justifiable uses for the drug. In addition, the company will produce other drugs to help combat overdoses of opioids.
Word of the plan to organize a new company was first revealed last week. At that time, half of the attorney generals across the U.S. wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, stating their disagreement with the government's idea of selling OxyContin.
According to the Associated Press, over 470,000 people have died from opioid addiction and overdoses in the United States in the last 20 years, according to the AP. In Iowa, drug deaths are below the national average but continue to trend in the wrong direction. America's Health Rankings shows "the number of deaths due to drug injury (unintentional, suicide, homicide or undetermined) per 100,000 population" in Iowa has increased every year for the last 14 years. It has gone from 4.2 in 2007 to 10.6 in 2019.