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Ohio Judge in Opioid MDL Wants Solutions

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Judge Dan Polster said it is not usually the federal court’s role to “tackle” these issues but other branches of government, federal and state, have “punted” this to the courts.

St. Louis, MOThe courtroom was so packed with lawyers, clients, and interested parties that the Judge had to call for more chairs to be brought in at the first status hearing on the National Prescription Opiate Litigation proceedings in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I did a little math,” said Judge Polster, according to the official transcript of the hearing. “Since we're losing more than 50,000 of our citizens every year (deaths due to opioids), about 150 Americans are going to die today, just today, while we're meeting.”

The National Prescription Opiate Ligation MDL is underway and the Judge in the case says he thinks Americans are more interested in finding solutions to the nation’s opioid epidemic than assigning blame. Big opioid drug manufacturers and distributors are on the hot seat here but if Judge Dan Polster gets his way this MDL will focus on answers as much, or perhaps even more than liability.

“In my humble opinion, everyone shares some of the responsibility, and no one has done enough to abate it. That includes the manufacturers, the distributors, the pharmacies, the doctors, the federal government and state government, local governments, hospitals, third-party payors, and individuals,” he said.

“The federal court is probably the least likely branch of government to try and tackle this, but candidly, the other branches of government, federal and state, have punted,” Judge Polster told the courtroom.

“It was quite amazing to hear the judge talk like this. Judge Polster, I believe, was highlighting the need to find solutions through this litigation,” says attorney Sarah Burns, assistant to co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs Paul J. Hanly, from the firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy in New York.

“What I'm interested in doing is not just moving money around,” the Judge said. “What we've got to do is dramatically reduce the number of the pills that are out there and make sure that the pills that are out there are being used properly,” he told the lawyers assembled for the hearing.

Close to 200 states, counties, municipalities from across the US have filed lawsuits against the country’s largest opioid manufacturers and distributors that are now consolidated in a federal MDL that will play out before Judge Polster in his courtroom in United States District Court in the Northern District of Ohio.

“Judge Polster also pointed out that for two years in a row the average life expectancy in the US has dropped and it’s due to opioids,” says Burns. “That’s striking.”

The lawsuits, filed across the country against the manufacturers and distributors of the opioid drugs, allege these highly addictive prescription drugs are a plague on communities, addicting and killing Americans in all social and economic classes in record numbers, destroying families and inflicting billions of dollars extra healthcare, policing and social service costs on state and local governments.

The plaintiffs are looking for financial compensation for the cities and towns to deal with these problems.

The defendants in the MDL include big opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Allergen, Johnson & Johnson and distributors Cardinal Health and McKesson.

“I don’t want to put words in the Judge’s mouth,” says Burns. “But he’s saying he is interested in a change of behavior here, more funding for addiction treatment and more money for education through this process.”

Courtroom litigation is usually a highly charged adversarial process, but Polster is appealing for resolution with help from all parties. With all these “talented” lawyers in the room, the Judge said, he was sure there was something that could be done to reduce the circulation of these highly addictive drugs.

And the Judge is in a hurry.

“My objective is to do something meaningful to abate this crisis and to do it in 2018,” Judge Polster said.

Many of the dozens of lawyers involved in this MDL are deeply committed to tackling America’s opioid crisis. “A lot of these lawyers have met directly with the county officials and state officials who are battling this opioid epidemic in their communities. They know the issues very well,” said Burns. “This is not going to be an easy road though.”

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READER COMMENTS


Posted by

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I am sixty years of age have had many medication that has been changed in my life giving the harsh medication back and no withdrawals. A new "MRI" showed more changing for the worst of my back. It had changed the pain doctor knew it. Being that my back is narrowing in two places which gives me pinch nerves passing through the narrow areas. Middle of the back and the lower back. The right hip has the narrowing in it. Took my pain medication before the doctor took it I told her that I believe that I was going to loose the ability to walk for it is painful. It hurt to stand and it hurt to sit. How can you do physical therapy without medication when you can barely walk? It hurt to get up and it hurt to lay down. They're trying steroid injection that only has a week relief that starts three or four days after the injection. Then they want you to loose weight on steroids. I've suffered so much and I don't think it's right! Yes, I want an answer for the overdose for those who loses hope and this is what is happening to those who are without pain relief they lose hope and the pain is to severe to continue to live that way so you drive them to suicide and then they want to treat us then with mind drugs for depression or anti-suicide. It isn't going to work wrong method of coping from the pain that is wrecking our bodies.

Posted by

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I am 57 years old have chronic pain due to injury and hard work I should be able to get pain medication as needed I also want to have a quaility life to be able to get out of bed and feel like a useful person . I have rights also and they are being taken away .

Posted by

on
I'm 60 years old and took care of my mom uncle husband also raised my sisters children 4 3 boys and a girl she had a brain anurisum husband cancer both died 6 months apart I also helped with a lot of other older family and freinds I weigh 105 lbs I have DDD osteoporosis adhd I'm in pain all the time so I am on opioids without them I can't move I don't understand what the fuss is I don't get high off them they just make me mobile maybe I take them correctly I hide all my meds never share I no that's a problem I lost many freinds from herion they never new I had my Perscriptions so for people like me I would never have surgery because everyone I no that did was in a wheel chair and died so I'm very scared beside I think I'm passed that stage so for us that pass our blood test and need the meds it's not fare to take them away. Quaility of life would not b tolerable and surgery not a option.i also have a lot of other things wrong with me.

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