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Pharm companies may need to pay billions to settle opioid lawsuit

With the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting over 450,000 opioid overdose deaths in the country from 1999 to 2018, it should come as no surprise that the government continues its crackdown on opioid violations. The government is focusing on those who manufacture and distribute opioids.

What is the latest government action against opioid manufacturers and distributors?

Four attorneys’ general recently called on pharmaceutical companies to pay $48 billion to settle thousands of opioid cases. The cases involve allegations the pharmaceutical companies were dishonest in their marketing strategies for opioid products leading to inappropriate use of the medications.

The allegations have led to the largest penalties the government has ever issued against a pharmaceutical company. In October, Purdue Pharma agreed to a plea deal with the government to pay $8 billion to settle the claims. This agreement includes over $2 billion for criminal forfeiture and an additional $3.55 billion in criminal fines. The charges led the pharmaceutical giant to file for bankruptcy.

What should pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists view as the take-away lesson from this most recent legal action?

Although negotiations between government officials and other pharmaceutical companies are still ongoing, one thing is clear: the government continues to aggressively pursue investigations and prosecution against those who are accused of opioid violations. This can include pharmacists who face allegations of wrongly filling opioid prescriptions. As such, those who are under investigation or facing similar charges are wise to take the matter seriously. Defenses are available. Legal counsel can provide options.