There is a major legal battle in the courts currently against pharmaceutical companies that many believe are responsible for the current opioid crisis in the country. The sales tactics and information for Big Pharma in the early 1990s helped to increase the number of prescriptions for opioids. It also led doctors and patients in New York and other states to believe these drugs were safe. Due to this, these companies are now having to defend their actions in court.
National Public Radio explains these lawsuits include not only these large pharmaceutical companies but also everyone else along the chain who may have contributed to the widespread misuse of opioids. Some of the biggest companies in the country are a part of this legal battle. Here are three things you should understand about these lawsuits.
The first trials are in Ohio
You may be a little confused by why such a major legal battle would begin in Ohio. The reason is that its location is fair to all defendants and the judge in charge has extensive experience in this type of case. In addition, Ohio has been one of the top states suffering from the opioid crisis.
The very first trial was set to begin when three of the largest opioid distributors and manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to a tentative settlement with two Ohio counties. Previously, Johnson & Johnson and Mallinckrodt, among other manufacturers, had settled with Summit and Cuyahoga counties.
The distributors, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, have agreed to pay $215 million to the two counties. Teva Pharmaceuticals has said it will pay $20 million in cash and contribute $25 millions’ worth of addiction and overdose recovery drugs. Under the deal, the four companies would admit no wrongdoing.
The cases come from all over the country
In addition to the Ohio state cases, almost 3,000 lawsuits have been consolidated into a single, huge federal case called the National Prescription Opiate Litigation.
The driving forces behind these lawsuits are individuals, cities, counties and tribal authorities. The plaintiffs are from across the country in areas all touched by the opioid epidemic. There was a recent change to include a negotiating class in the lawsuit, which now means the plaintiffs are every single city and county in the country. So, the plaintiff’s side of this case is the whole country.
The outcome could have an impact
The outcome of the lawsuits may help get money back into communities to continue to fight the crisis. Holding these companies and people responsible may start to put a dent in the opioid issues plaguing much of the country.
There is sure to be a lot of news about the various trials at the center of this opioid legal battle. Some cases may settle, some may go to trial and there may be some that never see a start due to defendants filing for bankruptcy protection. In any event, the end result may see funding to help the country battle the opioid crisis and save lives.