State suit targets opioid manufacturers—and feds could benefit
- By FederalSoup Staff
- May 24, 2019
Norman, Okla.— This college town next door to the state capital is host this summer to opening a case with huge implications for the American public—and for federal, state and local governments.
Here, in this courthouse, the state of Oklahoma is suing opioid drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson—arguing the company helped create the opioid epidemic plaguing this mostly rural state, as well as the rest of the country.
The case—opening May 28—could add leverage in the fight against opioid abuse—and a win might lead to savings for governments and the public. Manufacturers could be forced to pay more toward the epidemic’s costs—and cut marketing, slowing the increase in addicts. Since the Department of Veterans Affairs is the U.S.’s largest single healthcare provider—and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program is the country’s largest employer-sponsored health insurance—such developments could lead to savings for feds.
Feds are not just potential beneficiaries from the case. Feds also did research that contextualizes and supports it—much of the evidence on the opioid epidemic was developed at federal agencies by federal employees. For instance, the federal Centers for Disease Control’s latest tally shows opioids implicated in more than 47,000 annual national overdose deaths, with statistics available to a more granular level.
A White House Council on Economic Advisors analysis notes each opioid-related case can cost the economy millions—from massive healthcare expenses to $14-plus million per fatality. Finally, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse calculates opioid deaths rose more than 500 percent since 2000—correlating with aggressive marketing of opioid drugs.
Armed with federal—and state—figures like these, indicating the soaring costs of opioid abuse rising alongside the marketing of certain opioid drugs in recent decades, it’s no surprise that lawsuits against drugmakers are finally gaining traction. Such suits could lead to stronger curbs on the use and misuse of such drugs, saving lives and money. More than 2,000 tort cases are now in the pipeline against opioid drug manufacturers—this state’s is just the first to go to trial.