Posted by 17 January 2019
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey thinks she knows who is to blame for America’s opioid crisis: the pharmaceutical companies that make OxyContin and other opioids.
In a filing this week, Healey argued that the Sackler family, who owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, pushed doctors to prescribe heavy doses of the drug even after it knew the dangers it posed. Her efforts are part of a wider legal strategy by state and local governments to sue opioid manufacturers. These suite are seeking money from these companies for these governments’ expenses in dealing with the opioid crisis.
According to the legal theory being put forward by Healey and other plaintiffs, opioid manufacturers made and marketed these drugs knowing that they were addictive and dangerous. They encouraged doctors to prescribe the drugs regardless of the harm it would cause to users. They say that the high rates of opioid addition and overdoses we are seeing today is a direct result of these companies’ actions.
This legal argument is being resisted by the companies and others. They note that opioids are tightly controlled by the federal government. They said that the companies complied with federal laws and regulations regarding opioids, and should not be blamed for people who misuse their products. They point out that the vast majority of overdoses are due to heroin or fentanyl, not prescription opioids.
A federal judge in Ohio is overseeing most of the legal cases against opioid manufacturers. It is unclear when he will make a final judgment in the case.
Do you think that opioid manufacturers are responsible for creating the opioid crisis? Should state and local governments sue these companies to recoup costs they incur due to heroin or fentanyl addiction and overdoses?