Judge blocks lawsuits against opioid producers to help them save money to pay for lawsuits

And it goes downhill from there!


Erik McGregor/LightRocket

❝ OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners, the Sacklers, on Friday got a temporary reprieve from lingering court battles over their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis. In exchange, they may have to be more forthcoming about what happened to all the OxyContin money.

❝ US bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain temporarily halted state lawsuits against Purdue as well as the Sacklers — though only Purdue has filed for bankruptcy protections. In pausing the states’ cases, Judge Drain cited Purdue’s mounting legal expenses, which he noted is money that could otherwise go toward addressing the opioid crisis and its victims…

❝ Purdue is estimated to have made more than $35 billion from OxyContin sales, and the Sacklers reportedly siphoned off as much as $13 billion of that into their own pockets.

Out of the kindness of their collective hearts, the Sacklers have in return promised the court they’ll stop hiding the money and even answer questions truthfully. What fracking planet did these greedy bastards grow up on? These are the sort of rules the rest of us are required to live by our whole lives.

Big Pharma bought/intimidated enough of our government to halt law enforcement on opioids

❝ Newly unsealed documents in a landmark civil case in Cleveland provide clues to one of the most enduring mysteries of the opioid epidemic: How were drug companies able to weaken the federal government’s most powerful enforcement weapon at the height of the crisis?

The industry enlisted members of Congress to limit the powers of the Drug Enforcement Administration. It devised “tactics” to push back against the agency. And it commissioned a “Crisis Playbook” to burnish its image and blame the federal government for not doing enough to stop the epidemic.

❝ The Post has twice investigated the industry’s battles with the DEA, first in 2016 and again in 2017 with “60 Minutes.” But the full story has never been told because so few of the people involved will talk about it. The list of people who have declined to be interviewed includes former congressman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), who first proposed the bill; former acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg, whose agency surrendered to the pressure; former attorney general Loretta E. Lynch, whose department did not stand in the way of the legislation; and, finally, then-President Barack Obama, who signed it into law.

What? Did you expect our gallant elected officials to stand up for freedom, civil liberties and The American Way? RTFA and reflect upon the phony inability of Congress or the White House to get anything done. I’d suggest you start with throwing 80/90% of officeholders out the damn door!

How many pain pills were sold in your county? How many deaths?


Data compiled by CDC and DEA — Washington POST

❝ The Post obtained and analyzed a previously unreleased database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every pain pill sold in the United States – by manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. That data was compared with individual death records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which were obtained and analyzed by The Post.

Phew!

Ethics-challenged judges added to opioid deaths…and more


Click to enlarge

❝ For years, they sealed evidence about the risks as the body count mounted. And as a Reuters analysis found, it’s only one of many big product-liability cases in which judges have countenanced a lethal and often unlawful secrecy.

❝ In an unprecedented analysis, Reuters found that over the past 20 years, judges sealed evidence relevant to public health and safety in about half of the 115 biggest defective-product cases consolidated before federal judges in so-called multidistrict litigation, or MDLs. Those cases comprised nearly 250,000 individual death and injury lawsuits, involving dozens of products used by millions of consumers: drugs, cars, medical devices and other products. And the numbers don’t convey the full extent of information locked away because they don’t include thousands of product-liability cases heard in state courts.

Frankly, they need to be indicted and tried in something more than the court of public opinion. However, I doubt there is any appropriate body in American jurisprudence or politics with sufficient courage – or dedication to the common good – to do so.

OxyContin makers avoid televised courtroom trial — Settle out of court for $270 million.


Click to enlargeJustin Lane/EPA

❝ Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, agreed to pay $270 million to avoid going to a state court trial over the company’s role in the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans over the past two decades.

❝ The payment, negotiated to settle a case brought by the state of Oklahoma, was far larger than two previous settlements Purdue Pharma had reached with other states. It could jolt other settlement talks with the company, including those in a consolidated collection of 1600 cases overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland.

❝ “Purdue appears to have concluded that it was less risky to settle the Oklahoma case than have the allegations publicly aired against it during a televised trial and face exposure to what could have been an astronomical jury verdict,” said Abbe R. Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School who directs the Solomon Center for Health Policy and Law.

Lock ’em up and throw away the key!

Drug dealers rediscover behavioral market analysis

❝ Major dark web drug suppliers have started to voluntarily ban the synthetic opioid fentanyl because it is too dangerous, the National Crime Agency has said.

They are “delisting” the high-strength painkiller, effectively classifying it alongside mass-casualty firearms and explosives as commodities that are considered too high-risk to trade. Fentanyl can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin and can easily cause accidental overdoses, particularly when mixed with heroin.

❝ Vince O’Brien, one of the NCA’s leads on drugs…[says] that dark web marketplace operators appeared to have made a commercial decision, because selling a drug that could lead to fatalities was more likely to prompt attention from police.

It is the first known instance of these types of operators moving to effectively ban a drug.

RTFA. I don’t expect junkies to have beaucoup decision smarts. Anyone else, please don’t go experimenting with instant death – smiling or otherwise.

Opioids are killing thousands of veterans and the VA played a role in that

❝ Opioids, mostly illegally obtained counterfeit pills and heroin, now account for 63 percent of all drug deaths in the U.S., with fatalities climbing at an astounding rate of nearly 20 percent a year. In fact, the estimated number of drug deaths in 2016 topped the total number of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Vietnam wars. There’s a grim irony in that statistic, because the Department of Veterans Affairs has played a little-discussed role in fueling the opioid epidemic that is killing civilians and veterans alike. In 2011, veterans were twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdoses as non-veterans. One reason…is that for over a decade, the VA recklessly overprescribed opiates and psychiatric medications. Since mid-2012, though, it has swung dangerously in the other direction, ordering a drastic cutback of opioids for chronic pain patients, but it is bungling that program and again putting veterans at risk…

❝ Today, the number of patients affected by the VA’s swinging opiate pendulum is staggering: 60 percent of veterans who fought in the Middle East and 50 percent of older veterans have chronic pain. Since 2012, though, there has been a 56 percent drop to a mere 53,000 chronic pain VA patients receiving opioids—leading to swift, mandated cutoffs regardless of patient well-being and with virtually no evidence that it’s a safe approach…

RTFA. The VA stumbles from one side of the wrong-way highway to the other. Crippled by the fake president and tame bureaucrats relying on positions already corrupt and ineffectual – our veterans’ medical treatment is on the way to being as useless as any Republican-designed healthcare system.

The drug industry’s triumph over the DEA – with the help of Congress

❝ In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed — that according to Joe Rannazzisi, one of the most important whistleblowers ever interviewed by 60 Minutes. Rannazzisi ran the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. Now in a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post, Rannazzisi tells the inside story of how, he says, the opioid crisis was allowed to spread — aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives…

❝ JOE RANNAZZISI: This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors’ offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs.

BILL WHITAKER: Who are these distributors?

JOE RANNAZZISI: The three largest distributors are Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. They control probably 85 or 90 percent of the drugs going downstream.

RTFA. All of it. If you’re cynical as I am about our Congress-critters and how most of them are bought-and-sold, none of this will be a surprise.

Still, read the article. You will be better equipped to lambaste your friendly neighborhood politicians about their incompetence in the face of this epidemic.