The Department of Justice announced an agreement with the owners of Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the opiate analgesic OxyContin, who were accused of causing the death of thousands of users of this addictive product.  

“Purdue, through greed and violation of the law, prioritized money over the health and well-being of patients,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI field office in Washington, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. (DOJ) on Oct. 21. 

“The devastating ripple effect of Purdue’s actions left lives lost and others addicted,” added Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Administrator Tim McDermott.

In the resolution admitting their guilt of three serious crimes, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, it was also announced that Purdue’s owners will pay $8.56 billion in reparations for the damage caused, but that’s not all.

“The resolutions do not include the criminal release of any individual, including members of the Sackler family, nor do any of the company’s executives or employees receive civil releases,” the DOJ warned.

The global resolution with the company is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York.

Another condition is “that the company ceases to operate in its current form and emerge from bankruptcy as a public benefit corporation (PBC).”

This implies that it will deliver legitimate prescription drugs as safely as possible, and donate or give large discounts on lifesaving overdose rescue drugs.

It will also donate or give discounts on drugs to communities, and the proceeds from the trust will go to state and local opiate reduction programs.

Despite Purdue Pharma’s 2007 guilty plea for misleading the public about the risks of OxyContin and agreeing to pay more than $600 million in fines, it continued to sell it in large quantities, generating more than $22 billion over the last decade, according to Public Integrity.org.

Of the 52,000 deaths from overdoses of all drugs in 2019, 63 percent were related to an opioid. This cause of death surpasses firearms, traffic accidents, suicides, and homicides.

Some attribute some deaths to the improper prescription of opiates (216 million times in 2016). The estimate is that more than 1 million people took heroin during 2016 and 11 million abused those prescribed by doctors.

President Donald Trump, has shown himself determined to end the scourge that opioids mean for America.

Among other gestures, in an act of solidarity, he donated his salary for the third quarter of 2017 to the Department of Health and Human Services to help fight the opioid epidemic. 

“This epidemic is a public health emergency,” Trump said in formalizing the declaration of a public health emergency in October 2017, motivated precisely by opiate addiction in the United States.