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Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to criminal charges in wake of opioid crisis

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Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures OxyContin, pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to its opioid sales on Monday.

The plea deal was announced in Cleveland, and Purdue admitted to paying off doctors and hospitals in return for referrals to doctors for the company’s prescription opioid painkillers. Purdue said in a statement that it will pay $634.5 million for the criminal misconduct.

According to the indictment from the U.S. attorney in the northern district of Ohio, “Purdue explicitly paid doctors to prescribe OxyContin.” It added that the company paid hundreds of doctors and hospitals to refer patients to Purdue’s rivals when OxyContin was no longer available on the market.

The company also admitted it filed “misleading data in public reports” to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the efficacy of certain painkillers. Purdue said in its statement on Monday that it “no longer manufactures OxyContin.”

The case is among several investigations and lawsuits against manufacturers of opioid painkillers, and the plea deal comes as opioid overdose death rates continue to rise in the United States.

In addition to Purdue, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it was still investigating five other pharmaceutical companies in Ohio, while other investigation cases are pending against other pharmaceutical companies.

Robert Patton, the chief of the Cleveland office of the United States Attorney’s Office, said in a statement that “drug companies have been found guilty of serious criminal misconduct.”

“We’re working on dozens of similar cases across the country,” he added.

This post has been updated to reflect that Purdue no longer manufactures OxyContin.

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