What does DOJ’s $8B Purdue Pharma settlement mean for Utah?

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SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News)- Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty and pay $8 billion for its role in creating the opioid crisis.

The money will be used for opioid treatment programs. The breakdown of the sum includes a $3.5 billion fine, a forfeit of $2 billion in past profits as well as $2.8 billion to pay in civil liability.

“In my professional opinion and my private opinion, big conglomerates and big pharma took advantage of sick people,” said Ian Rader, an Addiction Specialist.

Rader is in long-term recovery for substance abuse addiction. His journey began as a teenager when he broke both of his elbows in an accident.

“I was prescribed pain killers for them,” he said. “I was really shocked at how easy it was. Doctors were doling them out.”

Wednesday’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice is the result of several states including Utah making their case against the privately held company.

“The settlement today opens the door to yet another really long process,” said Richard Piatt of the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

The process includes evaluating the company’s assets and its owners as well as seeing if the company goes into a trust to determine the total value of the estate.

In a separate civil settlement, The Sacklers, the wealthy family that controls the company will pay $225 million to resolve claims.

“There are a number of factors that need to go in there before we determine exactly how much money there is, to divide it up and how much the individual states are going to get,” said Piatt.

The final amount will be determined in court. That process is anticipated to happen within a year.

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