Walmart, CVS, Walgreens To Pay $650M Over Opioid Crisis

Walmart, CVS, Walgreens To Pay $650M Over Opioid Crisis
Fri, 08/19/2022 - 14:52

After a jury held the owners of CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart pharmacies responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic, a federal judge in Ohio ordered them to pay two Ohio counties $650 million over 15 years.

After a six-week trial, the jury returned its verdict in November of last year in a case that other attorneys had been closely watching. It was the first verdict in a case involving pharmacy chains accused of contributing to the opioid problem.

A second nonjury trial was held to determine the appropriate amount the firms must pay, and the results were used to determine the decision that the U.S. judge in Cleveland imposed on Wednesday.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Lake and Trumbull counties, were responsible for some of the methods designed for them to address concerns related to the opioid epidemic, the judge ruled. He told the companies to put the equivalent of two years' worth of those payments, or $86.7 million ($650.6 million total), into a fund right away. The corporations want to appeal the ruling.

The executive director for corporate communications at CVS Health Corp. claims that the company strenuously disagrees with both the Court's decision regarding the counties' abatement plan and the underlying judgment from last autumn. Pharmacists fill the prescriptions of DEA-licensed doctors who dole out lawful, FDA-approved medications to help real patients in need.

According to a representative for Walgreen Co., neither the jury's verdict from last fall's trial nor the court's ruling were supported by the facts or the law. He even claimed that throughout the entire process, the company never produced, advertised, or provided opioids to "pill mills" or online pharmacies that contributed to the opioid crisis. The parent business of Walgreen Co., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., runs pharmacies both domestically and abroad.

In their complaint, the attorneys representing Lake and Trumbull counties contended that the pharmacies had failed to prevent the overabundance of painkillers and the filling of fake prescriptions in the northeastern Ohio counties. Government statistics show that from 2006 to 2012, approximately 80 million opioid pills were transported to Trumbull County, which has a population under 200,000. Over that time, more than 60 million opioid pills were delivered to Lake County, which has a population of about 230,000.

The counties claimed that the drugstore firms' complicity in the opioid crisis had turned it into a public nuisance that had cost each county nearly $1 billion in legal, social service, and court costs.

A federal judge in San Francisco concluded last week that Walgreen Co. contributed to the city's drug problem. According to the U.S. district judge, San Francisco's largest retail drugstore, Walgreens, was unable to appropriately stop suspicious orders of opioids that might be used unlawfully for more than ten years. He determined that the business was responsible for "significantly contributing to the public nuisance" that is San Francisco's opioid problem.

States announced a $26 billion settlement with drug manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and distributors McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc. in July 2021 to end thousands of cases relating to the opioid crisis. According to them, cities and counties would utilise the monies to support social programmes that address the negative effects of opioid addiction as well as to pay first responders.

Veteran's Bid To Stop 3M From Exiting Earplug Liability MDL

 Veteran's Bid To Stop 3M From Exiting Earplug Liability MDL
Thu, 08/18/2022 - 13:29

Two U.S. military veterans have submitted separate motions and arguments to block 3M from using Chapter 11 bankruptcy to settle the Combat Arms Earplug version 2 (CAEv2) litigation, the biggest mass tort in American history.

Approximately 288,000 claims consolidated in the multidistrict lawsuit (MDL) in Pensacola are under the control of the federal judge presiding over the 16 bellwether trials. In a motion submitted on August 4, a veteran urged to prevent 3M from claiming that it is not entirely liable for the claimed damage he and other veterans claim to have had.

The motion was submitted a day after another veteran requested the judge to block 3M from taking any legal action to end earplug claims in the future. All of the plaintiffs in the 3M MDL assert that the CAEv2 earplugs did not adequately protect their hearing during their time in the military, which contributed to their development of hearing loss or tinnitus.

The allegedly flawed Combat Arms military-issued earplugs were first produced by Aearo Technologies, a division of 3M, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 26. The same day, 3M also disclosed that it would create a $1 billion settlement fund to cover any claims relating to faulty earplugs.

In 10 of the 16 bellwether trials that have taken place, juries have awarded $300 million in damages to 13 plaintiffs. In the remaining six trials, juries found that 3M is not at fault. Each veteran who has submitted a claim would receive less than $4,000 to address their lifelong hearing conditions if 3M's bankruptcy proposal is accepted. In comparison, two veterans received $110 million in a single successful bellwether trial.

Aearo sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just a few days after plaintiffs and 3M failed to reach a settlement during mediation. Before the end of August, an Indiana bankruptcy judge is anticipated to make a decision about Aearo's bankruptcy proceedings.

Plaintiff In First Zantac Lawsuit To Withdraw The Case

Plaintiff In First Zantac Lawsuit To Withdraw The Case
Wed, 08/17/2022 - 13:47

According to the plaintiff's lawyer and the drugmakers identified as defendants in the first lawsuit involving the heartburn medication Zantac that is set to go to trial, the plaintiff has decided to withdraw the case.

The decision comes days after investors worry about hundreds of lawsuits alleging the medicine, which U.S. authorities took from the market in 2020, caused cancer, and hurt shares of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc, and Haleon Plc.

In Illinois state court, the first trial in one of those cases was slated to start the following Monday. The complainant claimed that using over-the-counter Zantac caused him to acquire esophageal cancer.

An attorney representing Bayer stated that although her client was unable to continue due to personal health concerns, he was still entitled to resubmit his case within a year.

Both defendants in the lawsuit, GSK and Boehringer Ingelheim, expressed satisfaction that it had been dismissed and that Zantac was safe based on the available scientific data.

Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Sanofi have all offered Zantac at various periods since it was first promoted by a competitor of GSK. Haleon includes consumer health assets that were once owned by GSK and Pfizer and were spun off as an independent business last month.

The 2020 recall came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration looked into whether the primary ingredient in Zantac, ranitidine, raises blood levels of the potentially cancer-causing substance N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) among users.

A hearing about the admissibility of expert testimony in future trials is planned for September 20 in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, where around 2,000 claims have been consolidated.

The first federal court proceedings are scheduled to begin sometime in next year, although the case may be effectively resolved earlier if the corporations receive a relatively favorable verdict on the evidence.

Hawaii Announces Plans To Spend $78M Opioid Settlement

Hawaii Announces Plans To Spend $78M Opioid Settlement
Tue, 08/16/2022 - 14:28

State and local authorities announced strategies for using Hawaii's $78 million part of a national settlement with pharmaceutical corporations to fight the opioid epidemic.

According to the agreement, 85% of the funds would be used to address issues with other narcotics and the other 15% will go toward treatment, prevention, and education about the risks of opioid addiction. Few more specifics, however, were offered since the governor insisted that first, state authorities must complete a needs assessment.

The news comes months after a $26 billion settlement was struck with manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, three major pharmaceutical distributors, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, and distributors of prescription drugs.

Regarding drug overdose fatalities, Hawaii came in 37th place overall. The governor said that this year, drug overdose deaths in the state outnumbered road fatalities.

The country is currently dealing with a catastrophic opioid problem that is killing thousands of individuals, destroying families, and having a terrible impact on society. Although public health issues frequently develop in Hawaii years after they do on the mainland, warning signals are beginning to emerge.

The state Department of Health reports that from 2010 to 2014, opioids were responsible for 778 deaths, or 35% of drug overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also seen a rise in cases around the country.

According to the CDC, the latest figures indicate that the number of opioid overdose deaths climbed from an expected 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021. In 2021 compared to 2020, the number of overdose deaths from cocaine, methamphetamine, and synthetic opioids (mainly fentanyl) also increased.

A formula that took into account the population of the state and the effects of the opioid epidemic on it was used to calculate Hawaii's share of the total settlement. According to authorities, it includes $15 million over nine years from Johnson & Johnson and around $63 million over 18 years from the settlement with the three largest distributors.

In accordance with a contract signed by the state, the City and County of Honolulu, Maui, Hawaii island, and Kauai, an advisory committee made up of county and state representatives will decide how to spend 85% of the money statewide, while the counties will decide how to use 15% of the funds locally.

In order to provide funds where they are most needed, Hawaii's governor announced that officials will conduct a statewide needs assessment. The mayors of Maui and Honolulu stressed the value of supporting preventative and education initiatives.