Opioid Litigation Comes To Michigan – What Physicians And Hospitals Need To Know

Michigan, like the rest of the country, suffers from an opioid epidemic. Every day, more than 100 Americans die from an opioid overdose1. Some economists estimate that the opioid crisis has cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion since 2001 and is on pace to cost an additional $500 billion through 20202. The profligate use of opioid pain relievers has contributed mightily to the epidemic.  A few data points tell the story: About a quarter of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain do not use them as directed3. Roughly 4 out of 5 heroin users first abused prescription opioids4. United States citizens consume about 80% of the world supply of oxycodone and almost all of the supply of hydrocodone. Predictably, lawyers and their clients have engaged the legal system to assign responsibility for the opioid epidemic.  The wave of opioid litigation has reached Michigan. Opioid litigation, modeled largely on the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990’s, has grown exponentially over the last few years.  State and local governments initially targeted pharmaceutical manufacturers. Now, distributors such as McKesson and Cardinal have been sued.  In 2017, more than 250 state and local governments sued organizations throughout the opioid supply chain, including manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. Michigan has joined the cause. The number of Michigan cities and counties that have sued opioid manufacturers and distributers is growing. The list includes Detroit, Oakland...

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