This being America, the litigation capital of the world, it is perhaps inevitable that businesses will eventually settle for the crushing crushing of opioid lawsuits as a ransom to put the matter behind them. On Wednesday, the state Attorney General announced an opioid-rich deal with drug distributors and
and there will definitely be more.
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed across the country to hold drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers accountable for the opioid epidemic. Plaintiffs politicians and lawyers allege the companies lured hundreds of thousands of Americans into using opioids with deceptive marketing and negligent dispensing practices to boost their profits.
The main point of this argument is that opioids like oxycodone require a prescription from a doctor. Thousands of doctors must have been complicit in this conspiracy. Ditto Drug Enforcement Agency, which oversees and controls the delivery of opioids by distributors to pharmacies.
Opioid prescriptions have dropped since 2012, and the majority of overdose deaths are now caused by street-sold fentanyl, often mixed with other drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that the number of opioid deaths increased by nearly 40% last year to 69,710 in 2020, even though only 13,637 were attributed to prescription painkillers.
But actual liability didn’t count for much when the American mass torture industry started operating. Businesses settle because they know they risk being convicted with huge jury verdicts if they go to trial.
So three distributors—
—And drugmaker J&J has agreed to pay states and cities $26 billion to get their lawsuits dismissed. About $2.5 billion will be covered in legal costs including plaintiff attorneys that AGs are hired to help bring cases. They can upgrade their luxury yacht.
AG is hoping the settlement will boost manufacturers like Teva and Endo and retailers including
and CVS to settle lawsuits so they can beckon payments as they campaign for re-election or for Governor.
Businesses can’t print cash, so where do politicians think the money for these paybacks will come from? The answer is customers at higher prices and workers at lower wages. Insurers can cover some, but businesses are paying more for coverage as the risk of litigation increases, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. Insurers have coined a term for the rising costs from class-action lawsuits, expansive theories of liability, and giant jury awards: Social Inflation.
The opioid settlement is another example in a growing list of lawsuits aimed at a greater redistribution of social income to wealthy plaintiff attorneys, who then help politicians contribute to the cause. their campaign, who would then redeploy attorneys to help with more mass torture claims. Alas, that is the American way.
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Appears in print July 22, 2021.