Drug makers targeted in a massive number of lawsuits against them launched by numerous municipalities asked the federal judge in Cleveland overseeing the lawsuits to sanction GOP governor-elect Mike DeWine and two other lawyers for statements in recent television interviews that the drug companies insist taint the prospective jury pool.
The motion filed by the drug companies, including Cardinal Health, Endo, AmerisourceBergen and Purdue Pharma, accuses DeWine, Mike Moore and Burton LeBlanc of making statements on “60 Minutes” that were part of a “concerted campaign … to taint potential jury pools through misleading, inflammatory, and improper public statements.” They added that the statements represented “a flagrant violation of their ethical obligations as attorneys practicing before this Court and threatens defendants’ rights to a fair adjudication of the claims asserted against them.”
As reported by clevscene,com, the case against the drug companies arose because of what started in the early 2000s, when doctors often prescribed opiates while major pharmaceutical companies which funded academic studies, educational programs and medical groups, some of which condoned the use of opiates. The New York Times reported, “All the defendants say the drugs were approved by the Food and Drug Administration and prescribed by doctors.”
An article in the 2015 Annual Review of Public Health stated:
To overcome what they claimed to be “opiophobia,” physician-spokespersons for opioid manufacturers published papers and gave lectures in which they claimed that the medical community had been confusing addiction with “physical dependence.” They described addiction as rare and completely distinct from so-called “physical dependence,” which was said to be “clinically unimportant.” They cited studies with serious methodological flaws to highlight the claim that the risk of addiction was less than 1 percent.
In December, U.S. District Court Judge Dan A. Polster from the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division in Cleveland rejected a motion from drug companies to dismiss the lawsuit, writing, “It is accurate to describe the opioid epidemic as a man-made plague, twenty years in the making. The pain, death, and heartache it has wrought cannot be overstated.”
After his decision, plaintiffs’ attorneys celebrated, issuing this statement:
This ruling is a major step forward for the more than 1,500 communities across the country who have been battling the opioid crisis and demanding accountability from the opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies that are responsible for creating the epidemic. In 2019, we expect opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies will finally be held to account for the public crisis they wrought when they fraudulently marketed and over distributed addictive and dangerous opioids.
Polster is judging three test cases involving two Ohio counties and the city of Cleveland; his decision may indicate how the 400-plus lawsuits will be decided.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, four out of five heroin addicts said their addictions started with prescription opiates.