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. 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 drew the attention of everyone from President Trump to state attorneys general. The president declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, and vowed to stop the crisis in its tracks. Opioid manufacturers and distributors now face a growing number of lawsuits, in addition to probes from state attorneys general. Last week Judge Dan Polster held a hearing in Ohio federal court to devise a path to settle the lawsuits out of court. Polster listened to arguments from cities, counties and state attorneys general for and against the settlement mechanism. The details of the arguments are complex, yet investors need to pay attention. What comes out of the hearings could be key to whether a resolution to the opioid litigation is close.

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