Sacramento, CA - A massive federal lawsuit aims to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis, and a federal judge is seeking a quick resolution.
More than 200 individual cases have been consolidated in a multi-district process being overseen by U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster in Cleveland.,
The governments are suing over what they claim are false marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies that manufacture prescription painkillers, as well as claims that drug wholesalers brought more pills than needed into areas with high levels of addiction, knowing that the pills would be diverted for illegal use.
At an initial hearing on Tuesday, Judge Polster pushed for the pharmaceutical manufacturers and governments to settle the dispute quickly. Attorneys from across the country filled every corner of Polster's courtroom at the federal courthouse in downtown Cleveland, with others either in an overflow room watching a video feed or listening on the phone.
According to the transcript of the hearing and news reports, he told more than 100 attorneys that the United States is at risk this year of seeing life expectancy go down for the third straight year, a statistic unmatched since the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide, including 550,000 in the United States.
But unlike that particularly deadly strain of flu virus, "this is 100 percent manmade," Polster said. "I'm pretty ashamed that this has occurred while I've been around."
"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 unraveling complicated conspiracy theories."
Among other things, he said that "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. ... 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."
He acknowledged to those in the courtroom that his statements were likely not what they expected to hear in the first hearing but that he had given it a lot of thought prior to hearing. He wants to find a way to stop the flow of pills onto the street, while still ensuring that those who really need them can still acquire them.
Despite Polster's call for a quick settlement, Young predicted that the litigation would involve months of discovery, test cases and monthly meetings before the judge. "We don't need a lot of briefs and we don't need trials." Read More...