By Mike Spector and Jessica DiNapoli
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Purdue Pharma LP, the OxyContin maker controlled by members of the wealthy Sackler family, is nearing an agreement to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of a broader deal to resolve U.S. Justice Department probes into its alleged role in fueling the nation’s opioid crisis, six people familiar with the matter said.
Purdue lawyers and federal prosecutors are brokering a plea deal that could be unveiled as soon as within the next two weeks and include billions of dollars of financial penalties, four of the people said. They stressed that talks are fluid and that some of the terms could change as discussions continue.
In addition to the criminal case, U.S. prosecutors are negotiating a settlement of civil claims also carrying a financial penalty that allege unlawful conduct in Purdue’s handling of prescription painkillers, they said.
The Stamford, Connecticut-based company is expected to face penalties exceeding $8 billion. They consist of a roughly $3.54 billion criminal fine, $2 billion criminal forfeiture and $2.8 billion civil penalty, some of the people familiar with the negotiations said.
They are unlikely to be paid in the near term as the criminal fine and civil penalty are expected to be considered alongside other claims in Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings and the company lacks necessary funds to fully repay all creditors.
The tentative agreement would draw a line under Purdue’s criminal exposure for what prosecutors and state attorneys general have described as aggressive marketing of a highly-addictive painkiller that minimized the drug’s potential for abuse and overdosing.
Over the years, Purdue reaped billions of dollars in profits from its opioids, enriching Sackler family members and funneling illegal kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies, federal prosecutors and state attorneys general have alleged. The company now faces thousands