OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is close to a guilty plea agreement on criminal charges tied to its alleged role in fueling the nation's opioid scourge, several sources familiar with the matter told Reuters exclusively.
The plea agreement is part of a broader deal to resolve probes by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The deal being brokered by federal prosecutors and lawyers for Purdue, which is controlled by members of the wealthy Sackler family, could be unveiled within the next two weeks according to sources, and could include billions of dollars in financial penalties.
The talks are fluid and the terms of the plea deal could change due to ongoing negotiations.
Federal prosecutors and state attorneys general have alleged Purdue engaged in aggressive marketing of a highly-addictive painkiller that minimized the drug’s potential for abuse and overdosing, allowing the widespread use of OxyContin, which ultimately ravaged communities and killed hundreds of thousands. It is also alleged Purdue’s controlling Sackler family funneled illegal kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to drive up sales.
Members of the Sackler family have denied allegations that they contributed to the opioid crisis.
Representatives of Sackler family members either had no comment or couldn't be reached for comment on the plea agreement talks. Purdue said it is cooperating with the investigations and the plea talks, but wouldn't comment further.
Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection last year amid an onslaught of litigation, and the threat of more than $8 billion in criminal and civil penalties tied to its alleged role in the nation’s opioid crisis. Any plea agreement would have to be approved by a bankruptcy judge.