Fifteen opioid settlements have earned lawyers contingency fees amounting to nearly $160 million in both Oklahoma and two Ohio counties. The news comes after a law review blog made known the details of the settlements, coupled with government officials’ emails.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a dozen law firms received contingency fees over their lawsuit contracts. Still, the even higher expected amount was slashed by the federal judge overseeing the Street Case. This agreement was devised to release five major global drug distributors from the more than 2,000 consumer lawsuits that face them, both in state and federal courts.
Big pharma held accountable for the opioid pandemic gripping America
The drug manufacturers include Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, and Israel based Teva, a maker of generic medication.
Several plaintiffs were represented against the Ohio counties and Oklahoma drug distributors, with the ruling setting a milestone for ongoing opioid-related litigation across the country. The distributors targeted are not as prominent as more significant corporate players that have misled consumers with marketing gimmicks, which fueled the opioid epidemic. Evidence, however, points to their being key actors of evading regulation or assisting drug manufactories and outlets in circumventing opioid painkillers’ order limits.
The lawyers for the opioid victims argued that these distributors had flaunted state and federal laws by conspiring to desist from monitoring or reporting manufacturers or pharmacies. Distributors were portrayed as not only turning a blind eye to the extraordinary number of opioid orders but also motivating their sales teams to place more volumes on the market.
The utter disregard for public health and safety was decried by one of the attorneys as ‘jamming open the floodgates of death on an unsuspecting American public.’ No comment was forthcoming from drug companies, who had reiterated that theirs was to deliver medication approved by the FDA, and that doctors prescribed these drugs to their patients.
What this landmark ruling means for drug industry stakeholders
The deal saw the pharmaceutical distributors alongside manufacturer Teva pay a combination of cash payouts and addict treatment center donations. With over 400,000 casualties reported in the US opioid epidemic, drug market stakeholders can be brought to the stand following this $160 million landmark settlement.
While the two Ohio county settlements were being read, corporate lawyers for the defendants, other drug distribution companies, and pharmaceutical players were already pursuing another global deal. This would see them pay or donate over $48 billion to opioid treatments.