It is well-known that America has an opioid crisis. The number of accidental deaths related to opioids and the number of people addicted to them have been on the rise. Some believe such accidental deaths are driven by the proliferation of opioid prescriptions. According to The Economist, between 1991 and 2011, opioid prescriptions supplied by retail pharmacies increased from 76 million to 219 million – a 5.4% CAGR. Several state attorneys general believe drug makers have, in certain instances, fraudulently misrepresented the serious side effects of opioid use.
The opioid crisis has drawn the attention of everyone from President Trump to state attorneys general. Opioid manufacturers and distributors face a growing number of lawsuits pursuant to opioids, in addition to probes from attorneys general across the country. The popular narrative is that the opioid investigations could lead to tobacco-sized settlements.
There are thousands of lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers. Teva agreed to an $85 million settlement with Oklahoma in May. In early June Insys (INSY) filed for bankruptcy after agreeing to pay $225 million pursuant to a federal investigation into marketing practices for fentanyl. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is currently defending itself against the state of Oklahoma in a high-profile opioid case. Judge Aaron Polster is overseeing thousands of cases in Ohio. Read more: