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DOJ Throw Its Weight Behind Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

by Countable | 2.28.18

What’s the story?

In a press conference Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will file a statement of interest in a pending federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers for what he called "false, deceptive, and unfair marketing of opioid drugs."

The New York Times reports that the, "lawsuit pending in Federal District Court in Cleveland consolidates more than 400 complaints by cities, counties and Native American tribes nationwide." It accuses the manufacturers of misleading marketing, intentionally downplaying the drugs dangers, and neglecting to report orders that would have indicated abuse.

Previous administrations have used statements of interest to address issues of diplomacy, national security and civil rights.

Sessions also announced the creation of a new task force that will pursue opioid makers and distributors, seeking out other lawsuits that the administration can support to make sure that any illegality is being punished:

"We will use criminal penalties. We will use civil penalties. We will use whatever tools we have to hold people accountable for breaking our laws."

Defendants in the case include pharmaceutical giants Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, large distributors McKesson and Cardinal Health and pharmacy chains like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

Plaintiffs in the case are seeking to have nine years of opioid-related data made available by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the case. So far, the DEA has agreed to release two in order to "protect existing investigations", but the plaintiffs are hoping the DOJ’s statement of interest will increase the likelihood of receiving the other seven years worth of data.

What do you think?

Do you support the DOJ using their influence in cases like this one? Do you think the DEA should release the requested data? What do you think the administration should be doing in addition to this effort in order to combat the opioid epidemic?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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