Purdue reaches $8B settlement on federal opioid charges—but will it ever pay that amount?

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Purdue is still working toward an additional $10 billion settlement with state and local authorities. (Pixabay)

After years in court over its role in the nation's opioid crisis, Purdue Pharma has signed a massive settlement to walk away from federal civil and criminal charges. But as the company wades throught court-supervised bankruptcy, will the government—or individuals hurt by Purdue's bad behavior—see anywhere close to that amount in damages?

Purdue has reached an $8 billion-plus deal with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to plead guilty and settle federal criminal and civil claims for its role in fueling the nation's opioid epidemic, the Trump administration said Wednesday.

Purdue has been assessed a $3.54 billion criminal penalty and will forfeit an additional $2 billion, the government said. The company has also agreed to pay $2.8 billion to settle the government's civil claims. In addition, the company's founding Sackler family will forfeit $225 million in civil damages.

Of that $2 billion forfeiture, Purdue will pay $225 million on the day it exits Chapter 11 restructuring as a "public benefit trust" organization, the DOJ said in a release. That payment may be "credited" to state and local claims against Purdue, the DOJ said, with the government waiving the remaining $1.775 billion. 

The $8 billion settlement—or $6.225 billion, depending on how you view it—is separate from a civil payout worth between $10 billion and $12 billion Purdue has proposed to settle state and local claims. A wave of lawsuits is seeking trillions of dollars from the company and, taken together, cast doubt on how much Purdue will ever pay out given its bankruptcy proceedings. 

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