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Lawyers Hope to Do to Opioid Makers What They Did to Big Tobacco

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The legal front widening against makers of opioid painkillers has something in common with landmark tobacco litigation of the 1990s: attorney Mike Moore.

As Mississippi’s attorney general in 1994, Mr. Moore filed the first state lawsuit against tobacco companies, saying they harmed public-health systems by misrepresenting smoking’s dangers. He helped marshal the subsequent spate of state litigation and then the talks that led to a $246 billion settlement.

Now Mr. Moore is a private attorney encouraging states to sue pharmaceutical companies, alleging they helped spark an addiction crisis by misrepresenting the benefits and addiction risks of opioid painkillers.

Mr. Moore pressed Mississippi and Ohio to sue drugmakers and is helping them with the suits they have since filed. The affable 65-year-old is tapping coalition-building skills he honed in the tobacco litigation to urge other states to sue, too. Recently two additional states, Missouri and Oklahoma, filed suits.

“When he’s motivated, you don’t want to be on the other side,” said James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general who later worked with Mr. Moore during the tobacco wars.

Mr. Moore is among many tort lawyers flocking to help government bodies seek damages from makers of opioid painkillers. More than a dozen cities and counties are suing, in addition to the four states, assisted by outside attorneys who include Paul Hanly Jr. of Alton, Ill.-based Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC and Linda Singer and Joe Rice of Motley Rice LLC, based in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Like Mr. Moore, Mr. Rice has strong ties to the tobacco litigation, having been outside counsel to two dozen states and a lead negotiator in the settlement talks. Mr. Rice said he expects attorneys helping with opioid litigation to stay in close touch with each other, just as in the tobacco suits. In many cases they stand to win up to 25% of settlements or judgments.

Government bodies’ use of outside lawyers to sue for damages is criticized by the suits’ targets and by some conservative voices in the legal profession, who say the states are improperly outsourcing law-enforcement powers to firms that have a profit motive.

In New Hampshire, where the state hired an outside law firm to help investigate opioid marketing and potentially pursue litigation, the targeted companies filed a court challenge to the firm’s involvement, saying the contingent-fee arrangement “tainted” the investigation. The state’s supreme court last month rejected that challenge, allowing the law firm to keep working.

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawyers-hope-to-do-to-opioid-makers-what-they-did-to-big-tobacco-1500830715

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Much like people and tobacco, the addictive nature of opioids is no secret... 

 

I'm all for complete freedom to do these as one desires, and they are likewise free to deal with the consequences of it. 

 

My most recent stint of surgery landed me with an absolute overkill of hydro, codeine, etc. I only used it in correlation to extreme pain, and stopped using it, refusing to fill the rest and telling the pharmacy to rid of the rest of the prescriptions.

 

It's really that simple. 

 

The idea that the doctors and drug companies need to babysit a person to make sure they don't abuse drugs is ridiculous. Everyone but the individual is being tasked with this mind boggling burden. Personal responsibility out the window for pathetic excuses and blame shifting.

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16 minutes ago, IAMX said:

Much like people and tobacco, the addictive nature of opioids is no secret... 

I'm all for complete freedom to do these as one desires, and they are likewise free to deal with the consequences of it. 

My most recent stint of surgery landed me with an absolute overkill of hydro, codeine, etc. I only used it in correlation to extreme pain, and stopped using it, refusing to fill the rest and telling the pharmacy to rid of the rest of the prescriptions.

It's really that simple. 

The idea that the doctors and drug companies need to babysit a person to make sure they don't abuse drugs is ridiculous. Everyone but the individual is being tasked with this mind boggling burden. Personal responsibility out the window for pathetic excuses and blame shifting.

Sorry I am at odds with you on this but I do think the opiod manufacturers need to have some blame in this epidemic as well. The have actively sought out doctors that will prescribe unheard of amounts of the drug to drill up and foster their bottom line. This has led to a epidemic in the middle class and rural communities in the USA, that they are just NOW trying to rein in. I have seen this first hand how someone can get addicted to the pills, then resort to a faster high by breaking them up and snorting them. Then when that person can't get the pills they need for a fix they turn to black market pills. When that supply runs out due to the price then they turn to harder drugs like Heroin and Meth. I have seen this happen first hand with my x-wife and the devastation that it leaves in it's wake. So yest I do believe that the manufacturers need to be held somewhat responsible. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, cyberfx1024 said:

Sorry I am at odds with you on this but I do think the opiod manufacturers need to have some blame in this epidemic as well. The have actively sought out doctors that will prescribe unheard of amounts of the drug to drill up and foster their bottom line. This has led to a epidemic in the middle class and rural communities in the USA, that they are just NOW trying to rein in. I have seen this first hand how someone can get addicted to the pills, then resort to a faster high by breaking them up and snorting them. Then when that person can't get the pills they need for a fix they turn to black market pills. When that supply runs out due to the price then they turn to harder drugs like Heroin and Meth. I have seen this happen first hand with my x-wife and the devastation that it leaves in it's wake. So yest I do believe that the manufacturers need to be held somewhat responsible. 

Apologizing for disagreeing..

 

What have we come to. ;)

 

I see what you're saying though. What's weird is I had never heard of fentanyl until I moved to Alberta years ago, and they easily predicted in North America this would be a severe issue within a few years. Lo and behold.. 

 

They've addressed this in the universal healthcare department by scrutinizing how doctors prescribe painkillers. 

 

But when we start talking about the black market.. there's little that can be done. The black market exists to fulfill a desire (need/want) of individuals that the regular market itself won't fill. I see going after drug companies as not only blame shifting but using the taxman to go after companies and get money for doing absolutely nothing on their end.

 

So I ask myself, would going after companies make any changes to the apparent problem? I don't see in what way this does any good.

 

What I think is, if people want the government involved, communities should band together to provide safe places not only to administer these drugs to addicts but programs aimed at detoxing them without stigma. This is what occurs here.. and while it has helped the war, it's very clear with efforts already in Canada that pre-empted the US, that the overall effect on people using opioids is negligible. 

 

Edit: Also I think about my sister.. I guess fentanyl (a super painkiller) wasn't available as prescription when she died in like 2012. I imagine it would have been an amazing drug. She constantly complained about the absolute insane pain caused by immunosuppressive drugs (due to bone marrow transplant and foreign blood) and that no one could legally prescribe her painkillers strong enough, which includes when she was on hospice.

Edited by IAMX

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1 hour ago, cyberfx1024 said:

Sorry I am at odds with you on this but I do think the opiod manufacturers need to have some blame in this epidemic as well. The have actively sought out doctors that will prescribe unheard of amounts of the drug to drill up and foster their bottom line. This has led to a epidemic in the middle class and rural communities in the USA, that they are just NOW trying to rein in. I have seen this first hand how someone can get addicted to the pills, then resort to a faster high by breaking them up and snorting them. Then when that person can't get the pills they need for a fix they turn to black market pills. When that supply runs out due to the price then they turn to harder drugs like Heroin and Meth. I have seen this happen first hand with my x-wife and the devastation that it leaves in it's wake. So yest I do believe that the manufacturers need to be held somewhat responsible. 

I am all for getting grid of all painkillers.  

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