The Public Health Law Watch initiative identifies potential legislative and regulatory changes that have an impact to harm public health but have yet to break into the mainstream conversation, identifies ways to engage on these issues, and provides legal analysis and commentary.

Opioid litigation updates

Opioid litigation updates

Opioid Multi-District Litigation (MDL)

Over 1,500 federal court cases have been consolidated into the opiate multi-district litigation in the Northern District of Ohio. Cities, counties, tribes, hospitals, and others are suing opioid makers and distributors in the MDL overseen by Judge Dan Aaron Polster. During the MDL’s first hearing in January 2018, Judge Polster said he wanted a settlement within a year. The bellwether cases, Cuyahoga County, Ohio v. Purdue Pharma and Summit County, Ohio v. Purdue Pharma are slated to begin trial on October 21, 2019.

State Lawsuits

At least 39 states have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, seeking to hold them responsible for their role in the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. A few notable cases:

  • Oklahoma

    • In March 2019, Purdue Pharma settled its case with Oklahoma for $270 million. According to the settlement, $102.5 million will go to establish a national addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University, with an additional $15 million per year for five years; $20 million will go to addiction treatment and overdose reversal medications; $12.5 million will go to help cities and counties with the opioid crisis.

    • On May 26, 2019, Teva announced a settlement with Oklahoma for $85 million.

    • On May 28, 2019, the nation’s first opioid trial began, as Oklahoma lawyers accused Johnson & Johnson of oversupplying its drugs and misrepresenting the safety of opioids.

  • North Dakota

    • On May 10, 2019, a district judge dismissed North Dakota’s suit against Purdue Pharma, reasoning the company does not have control over the drug after it enters the market. The state has said they will appeal the dismissal.

Trump administration rule would undo healthcare protections for LGBTQ patients

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PHLW files amicus brief in opiate MDL

PHLW files amicus brief in opiate MDL