(Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors are prosecuting nearly $ 13 billion in fines to solve investigations by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma after revealing evidence of criminal and civil conduct stemming from the company's alleged role in driving the country's opioid crisis, said people familiar with the matter.
U.S. Department of Justice officials described additional information about their ongoing investigations into the company, controlled by the wealthy Sackler family, in paperwork filed last week in a federal bankruptcy court in White Plains, NY, which has not yet gone public, the people said. .  As with other Purdue creditors, the Department of Justice had to meet a July 30 deadline to assert financial claims against the company. The original lawsuit seeks about $ 1
The size of the claims represents the upper limit for penalties that federal prosecutors can seek, and the ultimate amounts paid to solve the investigations are likely to be much lower, the people said.
The Department of Justice is among thousands of creditors seeking to obtain money from Purdue, which has a liquidation value of just over $ 2 billion. Purdue has offered to solve widespread opioid trials in a deal it values worth more than $ 10 billion.
It includes $ 3 billion from Sacklers and value derived from the Stamford, Connecticut-based company, which is transformed into a general company run on behalf of the plaintiff that would donate drug treatment drugs and opioid overdose reversal drugs under development.
Purdue filed for bankruptcy almost a year ago and received court approval to stop more than 2,600 lawsuits filed by cities, counties, states, hospitals and other plaintiffs, claiming the company and Sacklers were major contributors to the US opioid epidemic. The company and the family have denied the allegations.
As part of the criminal probe, Justice Department officials are investigating Purdue's alleged encouragement of illegal opioid prescriptions, some people said. U.S. prosecutors are targeting possible conspiracy allegations and alleged violations of anti-kickback and drug safety laws, they said.
A separate civilian investigation focuses in part on the company's alleged fraud of state health care programs such as Medicare, one of the said people.
Ministry of Justice officials and lawyers for the company and the family have held discussions about resolving probes and details, including the size of any financial sanctions that prosecutors may seek, may change, the people said.
Neither Purdue nor the Sacklers are currently charged with criminal offenses or civil law violations in the Justice Department investigations, and federal prosecutors have not yet decided whether to bring cases, they said.
Purdue said it was cooperating with the Justice Department's probes and in discussions to resolve them but declined to comment further. A lawyer for the Raymond Sackler family said the family acted ethically and responsibly at all times but refused to comment on the Justice Department's applications. Representatives of another group of Sacklers had no immediate comment.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice declined to comment.
Purdue has been in the judiciary's chair in the past, when the company and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to allegations of misbranding OxyContin to resolve a case that also included more than $ 600 million in penalties.
The Department of Justice's current allegations could affect ongoing settlement discussions between Purdue, Sackler and thousands of American communities who have sued the company and the family. The plaintiff is seeking billions of dollars in damages to deal with injuries from opioids.
Solving the Justice Department's probes is a condition of Purdue's proposed solution, and sanctions sought by U.S. officials could affect how much money the plaintiff receives to deal with a public health crisis that claimed the lives of nearly 450,000 people between 1999 and 2018, according to the latest US data.
The lawsuits against Purdue and in some cases the Sacklers claim that they aggressively marketed prescription painkillers while misleading physicians and patients about their abuse and overdose risks.
Purdue has said that the US Food and Drug Administration-approved labels for the company's opioids carried warnings about the risks and addictions associated with treating pain. Purdue and Sacklers have denied allegations in court that they contributed to the opioid crisis and have pointed to heroin and fentanyl as more significant sins than prescription painkillers.
Health experts have said that many people turned to drugs such as heroin only after they first became addicted. to receptopioids.
More than 20 states under the leadership of Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut initially objected to the settlement proposal of Purdue and Sacklers, who wanted a larger family contribution and more information about their finances. The plaintiff is currently involved in discussions supervised by court-appointed mediators on how to distribute the settlement tests.