Nationwide opioid settlement proposed: 6 things to know

Lawyers representing cities and counties suing drugmakers, distributors and retailers over their alleged roles in the opioid crisis have proposed bringing all 24,500 communities across the U.S. into negotiations to reach a comprehensive national opioid settlement, according to The New York Times.

Six things to know:

1. The proposal, unveiled last week in a federal court in Cleveland, was described by legal experts as novel and unorthodox.

2. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by local governments against key industry players, including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health. If the proposal is accepted, it could potentially expand the number of municipalities and counties eligible for compensation from the settlement from 1,650 to about 24,500, according to the NYT.

3. "We have an epidemic caused by pills that have wheels, and different areas of the country get targeted at different points in time," said Joe Rice, one of the lawyers who explained a major obstacle to settlement in the rapidly accumulating cases. "So if you solve the problem in New York City, it doesn’t get addressed in Albany. And everyone recognizes this is a national issue."

4. The goal of the proposal to include all municipalities in the settlement is to boost the incentive for defendants to settle. If all municipalities in the U.S. are included, drugmakers wouldn't need to fear more lawsuits or expenses from opioid litigation.

5. Lawsuits against various players in the pharma industry have continued to pile up, largely by state or local governments suing to recoup costs for providing emergency services to people struggling with addiction.

6. To be accepted, the proposal would need approval from federal Judge Dan Aaron Polster in Cleveland.  

Read the full report here.

More articles about opioids:
White House announces finalists in challenge for automated tech to detect opioids in mail
States with medical marijuana laws have higher opioid overdose rates, study finds
How IU Health cut opioid prescriptions 30% in its EDs

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