U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing the opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving hundreds of lawsuits against drug makers and distributors, has come out with guns blazing at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for refusing to disclose data on opioid sales and distribution activities. The federal judge on April 11, 2018, ordered a series of trendsetting trials beginning in 2019 to establish the legal validity of several facts and theories before live juries. In a second order, Judge Polster ordered the DEA to release the detailed information on the exact amounts of opioids produced and distributed by the defendant companies, mentioning the DEA’s gross “failure” to curb the crisis.
The judge aims to reverse the crisis by striking a deal on funding and business practices. The first trial to be conducted will be in lawsuits from Cleveland and the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit. Although, the issuing of orders on April 11, 2018, highlights Judge Polster’s acceptance of the fact that he can’t bring an early settlement of the monumental opioid litigation, he is hopeful that it will eventually curb the rising opioid epidemic. Currently, experienced MDL plaintiff attorneys have taken the reins of opioid litigation in their hands. Most of the attorneys participated actively in lawsuits against pharmaceuticals, Volkswagen, and the landmark tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s.
The data, which is currently obtained through the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS), is compiled and maintained by the DEA. While multiple attorneys representing local governments requested for the release of pertinent information from the database that contains details dating back to more than a decade, authorities opposed the release citing confidentiality and criminal investigations in process. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), pharmaceutical companies require to furbish the ARCOS data to the government, showing all transactions made by drug manufacturers and distributors. The database provides crucial information that is sought by law enforcement agencies investigating cases of prescription opioid trafficking. Polster said that the data is essential to mitigate the ongoing opioid crisis that is wreaking havoc on the U.S.
Combating opioid use disorder
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that doctors writing millions of prescriptions for prescription opioids have fueled the epidemic, which is now claiming lives across the nation. In fact, nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. today can be attributed to the misuse of a prescription painkiller. From 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 lost their lives due to prescription opioid overdoses. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids in 2016 suggested a fivefold surge compared to that of 1999.
Fortunately, timely medical intervention and cognitive behavioral therapy for addiction treatment in a reputed drug abuse rehabilitation center is the key to kick off opioid use disorder. So, if you are grappling with opioid addiction, seek treatment immediately from a reputed rehab facility.
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