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13 Apr 2018

Daniel Fisher, Legal Newsline (USA)

Opioid judge orders trials, DEA records as 'step toward defeating the disease'

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The federal judge overseeing hundreds of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors has ordered a series of bellwether trials starting in 2019...U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster in Cleveland ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to turn over detailed information about the quantities of pills defendant companies produced and shipped, citing the DEA’s “failures” to control the epidemic.  The information...will help plaintiffs...identify additional companies to sue...Cities...are seeking compensation from the opioid industry for costs associated with addiction and illegal drug use, as well as changes in how drugs are distributed. Polster oversees...hundreds of federal lawsuits consolidated in a single court for the collection of evidence and other pretrial activities.  But he has no jurisdiction over hundreds more lawsuits filed in state courts around the country...The opioid litigation may be particularly challenging to settle...because of the broad range and size of defendants...Most of the lawsuits claim the drugs represent a public nuisance...Another complication is that most of overdose deaths are caused by illegal drugs..., meaning plaintiffs must prove victims were launched on the path to addiction by legally prescribed opioids or pills that were illegally diverted with the drug companies’ knowledge...