U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster, overseeing the Opioid multidistrict litigation (MDL) No: 2804, released a court order on May 8, requiring the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to hand over important transactional sales details of prescription opioids from 2006 through 2014 for the entire country. The judge agreed access to this data was important for the plaintiff attorneys as it would divulge names of the companies involved in the litigation, including how much each pays in damages, and how damages are allocated among different governments in the MDL.
Judge Polster also passed an order requiring plaintiff attorneys to disclose any financial backers that could benefit from the settlements. He also set timelines for an active litigation phase aimed to resolve complex legal issues and expedite settlement efforts.
More than 400 opioid-related lawsuits are centralized in the Northern District of Ohio. Plaintiffs include a growing list of cities, counties, and states alleging that the manufacturers of prescription opioid medications overstated the benefits and downplayed the risks of the use of their opioid products and aggressively marketed (directly and through key opinion leaders) these to physicians; and the distributors failed to monitor, detect, investigate, refuse, and report suspicious orders of prescription opiates.
The main defendants are opioid manufacturers: Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Endo International Plc; and drug distributors: AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp.