Pandemic stalls major opioid trials

Two trials involving opioid litigation have been stalled this month, delaying one of the largest civil cases in U.S. history, The Washington Post reported. 

More than 3,000 cities, states and Native American tribes have spent years preparing for trials against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies, accusing them of flooding U.S. communities with opioids and fueling an epidemic that has killed 400,000 people in the last two decades. 

Two federal trials have been delayed since the start of December, the Post reported. A trial that was supposed to take place in May 2021 in Cleveland has been pushed to October, and a January trial in West Virginia has been delayed with no scheduled date. 

"The concept of a speedy trial or the right to a trial, we’ve lost that," Joe Rice, one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs, told the Post

It's unlikely that the drug companies being sued will agree to a settlement while there isn't a pending trial, plaintiffs and legal experts told the Post

Courts have decided against moving trials to virtual settings because the scale of the opioid litigation, which is likely the most complex in U.S. history, would be too hard to hold over video conferences, according to the Post

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the opioid crisis, the Post reported. More than 81,000 people died of drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in May 2020, a record high. 

Read the full article here.

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