In a desperate attempt to avoid being sued into the pits of bankruptcy, Purdue Pharma, which manufactures the rock star painkiller OxyContin, is on the move to settle opioid lawsuits all over the country. A recent report from Bloomberg suggests the company could offer states “payoffs” to keep from being implicated in the U.S opioid epidemic.
It seems the orders coming down from the boardrooms of Big Pharma is to throw money at those states affected by the opioid crisis and hope that it is enough to keep the situation out of court. Apparently, Purdue has sent a legal team out into the field to see how well received the concept of a settlement is to state attorneys general. The goal is to strike up a preliminary deal and prevent more states from launching investigations.
The company has to do something to stop the bleeding.
Earlier this year, a number of cities and county jurisdictions filed lawsuits against opioid manufactures in a manner that has been compared to the litigation that once surrounded the tobacco companies.
As it stands, there are more than 40 attorneys general elbow deep in the probe, all of whom are searching for someone to blame for allowing prescription opioids to spiral into a national death rattle.
Some of the latest data shows that 64,000 people died in 2015 as a result of an opioid overdose—a large portion of these deaths have been attributed to prescription painkillers, like OxyContin and Percocet.
However, multi-billion dollar corporations like Purdue argue that they should not be held responsible for the demise of those tens of thousands of American because the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved their product, as well as its safety warnings.
In these cases, judges are saying that they must look to the findings of the FDA in order to determine whether painkillers, like OxyContin, were branded with the appropriate risks.
But the problem here is not with the fact that these drugs are manufactured and sold. These lawsuits suggest that the opioid situation became a public health crisis because of the way Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies were allowed to market the drug.
The drug companies are frightened by the prospect of losing this fight, which is why they have come, loaded for bear.
The word on the street is that Purdue has brought in attorney Sheila Birnbaum to handle the settlement issue. Birnbaum is the 76-year-old shark credited with winning a number of high-dollar mass tort cases, including the $765 million NFL concussion settlement. There is very little doubt that she will go for the jugular in an attempt to resolve this matter.