By: Savannah Smith | 01-29-2018 | News
Photo credit: Garth Grimmer |

Judge: More Practical to Curb Opioid Epidemic Than to Litigate

A federal judge thinks that it is more practical and effective to curb the opioid epidemic than go through the litigation process on the numerous cases regarding the problem. He is in a position to say so since he overseeing about 200 lawsuits against opioid makers.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster of Cleveland, Ohio told the parties concerned this month: “About 150 Americans are going to die today, just today, while we’re meeting.” He gives his honest take on the matter as he added: “And in my humble opinion, everyone shares some of the responsibility, and no one has done enough to abate it.”

Polster says his objective is to do something meaningful to abate the crisis änd to do it in 2018. He is confident more can be done “to dramatically reduce the opioids that are being disseminated, manufactured and distributed.” The judge adds that it must be assured that the pills allowed will go to the right people and no one else.

Polster also sees not much value in dispositions and trials. He said people are not really interested in finding answers to interesting legal questions like pre-emption and learning intermediary or unraveling complicated conspiracy theories.

Opioid litigation basically started as only a trickle but it reached flood proportions last year when about 250 cities, counties, and states sued opioid makers, wholesalers, distributors, and marketers.

The lawsuits accuse the pharmaceutical companies of misleading health care professionals and the consuming public by marketing opioids as rarely addictive and a safe substitute for non-addictive pain medications such as ibuprofen.

Companies, on the other hand, deny the allegations and claim that litigation should be stopped until the Food and Drug Administration-ordered studies on the long-term risks and benefits of opioids are completed.

Then there are the experts who say the huge number of opioid lawsuits could lead some companies to settle as the litigation costs must be “killing them.” The settlements, however, may inspire more plaintiffs to sue.

There are those who are suggesting that a good solution is to go for a global settlement. Purdue Pharma whose drug OxyContin, in fact, jumpstarted the opioid epidemic is proposing a global settlement in an attempt to end litigation.

There are hospitals who are suing, too as a number of hospital officials say they have been forced to treat patients for opioid addiction and overdoses as well as babies born with an opioid addiction.

Every state attorney general has either also filed a lawsuit against opioid makers or is involved in probing whether the drugmakers misled health care providers about the addictiveness to opioids.

Last year, President Trump declared that the opioid epidemic was a public health emergency and the Justice Department moved to arrest the founder of Insys Therapeutics, John Kapoor, accusing him of using kickbacks to get doctors to prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl spray for cancer patients suffering from excruciating pain even to patients who didn’t have cancer in the first place.


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