Pollution law gives hope to both sides

Cleveland — A jury’s discovery this week that three major pharmacy chains in two Ohio counties are contributing to the opioid addiction tragedy is ultimately a protracted court battle that can’t improve the community. May be just the beginning of.

The reason is the central argument that pharmacies have created “pollution” by dispensing overwhelming amounts of prescription analgesics to each county.

Thousands of state and local governments have sued pharmaceutical companies, distributors and pharmacies for the crisis that caused deaths from overdose of more than 500,000 people in the United States over the last two decades. Proceedings generally focus on allegations that companies have caused pollution by obstructing public rights through the way drugs are sold, shipped, and sold. It nourishes the addiction of some patients and provides tablets that were later diverted to the black market.

Similar discussions were used in two other cases (California and Oklahoma) that favored the industry a few weeks before the Ohio jury decided. Given these decisions, there is no guarantee that Tuesday’s verdict in the cases filed by Lake and Trumbull counties against CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart will postpone the appeal or lead to similar decisions elsewhere.

“Recently, there have been various decisions and there is reason to be cautious about what this really means in a grand plan,” said Shatterproof’s Supreme Public, who advocates solutions to the country’s addiction and overdose crisis. Kevin Roy, Head of Policy, said. ..

The industry does nothing illegal and claims that pollution laws do not apply to the prescription and distribution of prescription analgesics.

“As mentioned throughout this process, we have never manufactured or sold opioids, nor have we distributed them to the’pill mills’ or internet pharmacies that fueled the crisis,” Walgreens spokeswoman Fraser Engerman said in a statement. I am. “Plaintiffs’ attempts to resolve the opioid crisis with unprecedented expansion of pollution law are misguided and unsustainable.”

Pollution claims are usually used to address local concerns such as devastated homes, illegal drug trafficking, and dangerous animals. Such allegations were used in proceedings against tobacco companies in the 1990s, but they led to a settlement rather than a trial.

Lawyers representing counties and other local governments involved in the wider world of opioid proceedings say that businesses can open more places, flood communities with pills, and drive opioid influx into secondary markets. He said he was involved in creating a public health emergency in the area.

In Trumbull County alone, approximately 80 million prescription analgesics were dispensed between 2012 and 2016. This is equivalent to 400 per resident. In Lake County, it was about 61 million tablets.

Rev. Barbara Holtzhauser saw an opioid flood tearing through the seams of her community. She has received too many calls telling her that she will die from another overdose and has performed public affairs at many of those funerals.

“In almost every situation, like my nephew, the person was fine and back,” said Holtzhauser, whose nephew died of overdose eight years ago.

She said the crisis was devastating to the entire Lake County, a mix of blue-collar and wealthy suburbs just east of Cleveland, as Deputy Minister of the United Methodist Church of Mentors. Holtzhauser said he was pleased that the county did something to make the pharmaceutical industry accountable.

“I can’t think of anyone who knows I’m somehow unaffected,” she said.

Lawyers representing local governments in national opioid proceedings cited effects such as Lake County in defending the use of pollution law, arguing that businesses were negligent or careless. Attorney Mark Lanier said pharmacies should have exercised greater responsibility in the dispensing of opioids.

“These are highly addictive drugs,” Lanier said. “And through this trial, the jury was able to evaluate the national measures taken by these pharmaceutical chains and shout” inadequate “from the rooftop. “

Still, the pharmacy chain continues to fight and vows to see optimistic reasons.

A judge in Oklahoma ruled in 2019 that pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson bothered and ordered the state to pay $ 465 million. This month, the State Supreme Court dismissed the ruling that Oklahoma’s pollution law did not apply to opioid makers.

Also this month, a California judge ruled in favor of a group of pharmaceutical companies sued under pollution law by the county and city governments.

Tuesday’s ruling overturned that trend. The Ohio proceedings are also unique in that the US opioid proceedings were the first proceedings decided by a jury, not a court, and the first proceedings regarding claims against pharmacies.

Elizabeth Birch, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said it makes sense to file a lawsuit on the grounds of pollution, as pharmacies are in a unique position to monitor the development of the addiction crisis.

“These are the people at the forefront,” she said. “They see the same people coming in, and they see the same doctor writing a prescription.”

However, she also noted that pollution and case law vary from state to state, and factors such as persuasive lawyers may be sufficient to shake the verdict. Therefore, it is uncertain whether a consensus will be created around legal theory.

Further testing of pollution laws is imminent.

A federal judge in West Virginia heard a proceeding against a drug dealer earlier this year, but has not yet ruled. A trial is underway against a distributor in Washington State and a manufacturer in New York.

Unlike companies in other segments of the pharmaceutical industry, no pharmacy has signed a national settlement agreement over this crisis. Joe Rice, one of the chief lawyers representing the local government in the case, said he hopes the ruling will encourage the pharmacy chain to begin reaching these settlements.

Otherwise, it can be even more costly. For example, two Ohio counties are seeking damages in excess of $ 1 billion each in the second phase of a trial scheduled for April or May next year.

“We will try many cases and lose some,” Rice said. “But we are going to win this war.”

This dateless combination of photos shown includes CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens locations. (AP photo)

Pollution law gives hope to both sides

Source link Pollution law gives hope to both sides

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