Editor's Letter

4 Reasons Why Opioid Liability Is a Perfect Formula for Massive Settlements

By: | August 10, 2018

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

Underwriters that are very worried about the trail of opioid addiction liability, as quoted in our May story on the topic,  appear to be on the mark.

From all appearances, the addiction epidemic raging across the nation, and hitting hard at the social services sector, contains every element a plaintiffs’ attorney would need to score a big win in court. Here are just a few:

1) Science

Just how perniciously opioids interact with the human brain, creating a physical and mental addiction that is so very hard to break, is well documented scientifically.

2) Lack of Controls

Plaintiffs’ attorneys will be asking manufacturers of these addictive substances, and every member of their distribution channel, what controls they had in place to ensure populations were not harmed by these substances.

It appears that any controls in place were insufficient, and overall, profits were placed before people.

3) The Appearance of Collusion

Relationships between health care providers, pill makers and pill sellers appear to have been too fraternal. Gifts to physicians and health system executives from representatives of pharmaceutical companies will lead jurors to conclude that professional ethics were bent by self-interest.

We know from our workers’ compensation sources that physician dispensing — doctors selling drugs out of their offices at jacked-up prices — included the selling of addictive substances.

4) Victims

Opioid addiction is claiming 160 lives per day in this country, and that death train is still rolling along. Evidence of knowledge of the risk beforehand, collusion and personal profit playing a hand in anyone’s death is a formula no defense attorney wants to find themselves on the wrong side of.

The lawsuits on this subject are piling up. Comparisons with tobacco and asbestos seem rational.