The role that drugmakers and drug distributors played in contributing to the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic is now front and center in a federal courtroom in Cleveland.
Judge Dan Polster is overseeing more than 200 lawsuits against drug companies brought by local communities across the country, including those in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. The lawsuits have been consolidated into what is known as “multidistrict litigation,” an approach taken when lawsuits of a similar nature are filed around the country.
The consolidation comes in the midst of the most widespread and deadly drug crisis in the nation’s history. The government tallied 63,600 overdose drug deaths in 2016, another record. Most of the deaths involved prescription opioids such as OxyContin or Vicodin or related illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.