As reported in our blog post, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation Centralizes Lawsuits to Form Opioid Epidemic MDL (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL No. 2804)the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated 155 opioid suits from 25 courts, and chose District Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland to preside over them (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL No. 2804).

Among Judge Polster’s observations:

Who’s to blame for the opioid crisis:

In my humble opinion, everyone shares some of the responsibility, and no one has done enough to abate it. That includes the manufacturers, the distributors, the pharmacies, the doctors, the federal government and state government, local governments, hospitals, third-party payers and individuals. Just about everyone we’ve got on both sides of the equation in this case.

The federal court is probably the least likely branch of government to try and tackle this, but candidly, the other branches of government, federal and state, have punted. So it’s here.

I read recently that we’ve managed in the last two years, because of the opioid problem, to do what our country has not done in 50 years, which is to — for two consecutive years, reduce, lower the average life expectancy of Americans. And if we don’t do something in 2018, we’ll have accomplished it for three years in a row, which we haven’t done since the flu epidemic 100 years ago wiped out 10 percent of our population.

And this is 100 percent manmade. Now, I’m pretty ashamed that this has occurred while I’ve been around. So I think we all should be.”

What he would like to see a settlement cover:

The resolution I’m talking about is really — what I’m interested in doing is not just moving money around, because this is an ongoing crisis. What we’ve got to do is dramatically reduce the number of the pills that are out there and make sure that the pills that are out there are being used properly. Because we all know that a whole lot of them have gone walking and with devastating results. And that’s happening right now.

So that’s what I want to accomplish. And then we’ll deal with the money. We can deal with the money also and the treatment. I mean, that’s what — you know, we need a whole lot — some new systems in place, and we need some treatment.”

Why he thinks the litigation is useless in the public’s eye:

I don’t think anyone in the country is interested in a whole lot of finger-pointing at this point, and I’m not either. People aren’t interested in depositions, and discovery, and trials. People aren’t interested in figuring out the answer to interesting legal questions like preemption and learned intermediary, or unravelling complicated conspiracy theories.”

If a settlement can’t be reached:

I’ll turn the plaintiffs loose on the defendants; I’ll turn the defendants lose on the plaintiffs. You’ll, you know, tear each other up way down … for discovery. You can go after the federal government, full discovery there, too.

You know, FDA, DEA, have at it, and in 2019, I’ll try the Ohio case myself and see what happens, after dealing with whatever motions, and I’m sure some of the claims and theories are going to be knocked out and some will survive. …

What that will accomplish, I don’t know. But I’d rather not do that.”

Please see our other opioid-related blog posts:

Opioid Epidemic Lawsuits: Orange County and Other Local Governments vs. Big Pharma

Orange County Sues Drug Makers and Doctors Over Opioid Addiction Crisis

Orange County Takes Aim at Big Pharma

#opioid #opiate #litigation #lawsuit #pharma #addiction

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