Over the last decade, the opioid crisis has claimed the lives of over 360,000 Americans. Parallel to this ongoing public health crisis has been an epidemic of litigation. More than 2,000 states, cities, municipalities, and Native American Tribes seek to hold opioid defendants responsible for conspiring or playing an independent role in infiltrating the market with addictive drugs. The litigation is fractured with a myriad of competing suits against classes of opioid manufacturers, distributers, pharmacies, and doctors. Some of the plaintiff experts in these lawsuits have opined that it will take $1 trillion dollars or more to abate the epidemic.
Aside from issues with finding a global abatement solution through litigation, critics have questioned the federal government’s response to the opioid public health crisis as slow, disorganized, and inefficient. As of the end of 2020, the federal government has provided states with a total of $18 billion in funding across two presidential administrations to help manage the ongoing problem, but for the most part, the federal government’s response can be seen as underwhelming in comparison to the historical costs for opioid-related healthcare, criminal justice, and social services that states, counties, and municipalities have claimed.
This begs the question: Will litigation and a piecemeal government response solve this problem?
Peter Kelso and Kristen Knorn from Roux’s Economic & Complex Analytics (ECA) practice published an article in Law360 that calls for Congress to help solve the opioid public health crisis. The article provides a public policy perspective on the issues surrounding the parties involved in the long-running, fractured opioid state and federal litigation, and questions the efficacy of litigation, as well as a piecemeal government approach, to solve the opioid crisis.
Click here to read the article.