Settlement Related to Opioids

In March, Purdue Pharma agreed to pay $270 million to the state of Oklahoma as the result of the first state settlement of litigation stemming from the opioid epidemic. Today, there are more than 1,600 additional cases pending across the U.S. As more of these cases head towards possible settlement agreements, public health experts are weighing in on the best use of the funds to respond to the ongoing opioid crisis.

On May 13, G. William Hoagland, Senior Vice President of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) https://bipartisanpolicy.org introduced Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter to discuss the addiction crisis occurring not just in Oklahoma but all over the U.S. Jason Grumet, President of BPC, conducted a fireside chat with the Attorney General to hear his viewpoint on how to handle litigation issues involving the opioid crisis.

The Attorney General reported “Last year, more than 3,000 people in Oklahoma were admitted to the hospital for a non-fatal overdose with 80 percent involving a prescription opioid medication. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of people in Oklahoma dying from a drug overdose in 2018 resulted from taking a pharmaceutical drug.”

Attorney General Hunter mentioned the legal case and Purdue’s historic settlement involving opioids https://www.purduepharma.com and how Purdue is going to establish a nearly $200 million endowment at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Wellness and Recovery. The funds will be used to further the treatment for the ongoing addiction occurring nationwide with funding due to begin in 2020.

The OSU Center for Wellness and Recovery is a comprehensive treatment and research center for treating pain and addiction as a brain disease. In 2018, as part of the Center, OSU launched the Addiction Medicine Clinic employing the state’s first certified academic addiction physicians. The clinic offers individualized, evidence-based substance use disorder treatments, provides medication-assisted treatments, along with mental health services to adults.

Regina LaBelle Program Director of the Addiction and Public Policy Initiative at Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, moderated a panel to discuss the role that litigation settlements can play to help support prevention and treatment, and how to generally deal effectively with the serious opioid crisis facing our nation.

The panel included Abbe Gluck, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School, Marcia Lee Taylor, Executive Vice President, External and Government Relations, Center on Addiction, and Matthew Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

In March 2019, the BPC published an in-depth report titled “Tracking Federal Funding to Combat the Opioid Crisis”. According to BPC, “In spite of the considerable attention focused on drivers of the opioid epidemic, less attention has been paid to whether federal investments to address the issue are being effectively targeted to the communities most affected and to communities with the highest number of overdose deaths.”

The report tracks federally funded opioid programs in fiscal year 2017 and FY 2018 plus the report examines how appropriated funds are being directed to address the opioid epidemic. The report also examines how federal opioid investments are spent across five geographically diverse states, to include Arizona, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Go to https://bipartisanpolicy.org/events/the-role-of-litigation-response-to-the-opiod-epidemic for more information on the report.

Go to C-Span https://www.c-span.org/video/?460645-1/litigation-opioid-manufacturers for the May 13 video on the BPC event.

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