Winning the War on Opioids: A Behind the Scenes Look at The Largest and Most Complex Deal In The History of Jurisprudence
In a deal the Washington Post called “the largest civil action in U.S. history,” the terms for the formal global settlement agreement with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the “Big Three” drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson were just announced.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a nationwide lawsuit against Walmart Inc. According to a civil complaint the DOJ filed, Walmart pharmacies across the country unlawfully dispensed controlled substances. At the height of the country’s prescription opioid crisis, Walmart unlawfully distributed such drug to their pharmacies, according to the complaint.
For the first time in U.S. history, the risk of dying from an opioid overdose is greater than that of being killed in a traffic accident. Opioids also exceed slip and fall incidents, drowning, and fire as causes of unintentional deaths. Furthermore, only 13 states (including the District of Columbia) are making any progress in dealing with the crisis.
Opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma lost a legal battle in Tennessee recently when the state attorney general's office unsealed records of a lawsuit filed this past May. Those records, which lawyers for the drugmaker fought to keep secret, reveal that Purdue engaged in a wide variety of deceptive and duplicitous actions in order to increase sales of OxyContin (oxycodone).
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster has ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to provide data on opioid prescription sales throughout the nation. This order comes as part of the ongoing multidistrict litigation against pharmaceutical companies that allegedly played a major role in the country's opioid addiction crisis.
The medical community has been dealing with addiction to opioid-based pain medication for over 150 years. It is not a new issue. It has only been in recent years that the rate of addiction has reached crisis proportions. In 2016 alone, opioid overdose claimed 42,000 lives – more than the number of those lost to breast cancer.
Department of Justice Announces It Will Side With Plaintiffs in Opioid Lawsuit – But Will It, Really?
Earlier this week, the current U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions announced that the Department of Justice intends to file a “statement of interest” in filing its own lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. In a media statement, Sessions alleged that opioid manufacturers and distributors had used “false, deceptive, and unfair marketing” in order to market their products.
While a 2016 study found that antipsychotic medications taken during pregnancy do not necessarily lead to birth defects, a new study by the same researcher has discovered that expectant mothers who take opioid painkillers on top of antipsychotic prescription drugs run a moderate to high risk of giving birth to babies going through withdrawal.