Below are some of our videos explaining the opioid epidemic in America and why governmental agencies are now taking the pharmaceutical companies to court to pay for the damages these narcotics distributors have caused. To learn more, click Government Opioid Litigation.
Feds Have Allowed The Opioid Epidemic To Grow
Sam: So Pap, one thing that I want to talk about in the context of what’s going on that to a certain extent is we felt the impact in this past election has been the rising death rate amongst white men in their 40s and 50s. That has been fluctuating a little bit over the past couple of years. But largely this is a function of a huge spike in overdoses and that relates to massive amounts of opioid addiction in this country.
To a large extent this is created a sense of hopelessness that in many instances causes people to not worry about voting for someone like Donald Trump who may, gosh knows, do what to our government because they can’t perceive of things getting any worse.
Donald Trump says it’s a function of heroin coming in from Mexico, but that’s not really the case, is it?
Pap: Well, no. You heard … Look, you heard a lot of congressmen who were running for office and senators who were running for office that were in heavy opioid land. Where the opioid crisis is out of control. During the election that was the talk, after the election it disappeared because Big Pharma, as they always do, came in and started spreading around money. ‘Mr. Senator if you will shut your mouth we will back you in the next election. Just all you have to do is hush. Don’t talk about all these dead people dying from opioids.’
But look, Pharma created a crisis that’s claimed the lives of tens of thousands of American’s every year, Sam. I think in 2015 there are more than 52 thousand deaths in the United States who were directly attributed to overdose opioids. About two-thirds of those deaths came from legal prescription drugs. Two-thirds. Two-thirds came from legal prescription drugs.
That’s more people than died in auto accident or firearms in the United States. And it may not seem like these deaths were Big Pharma’s fault when you first look at it, but it is absolutely Big Pharma’s fault. The argument is-
Sam: Will you walk us through how this happens? Because I have a good friend of mind who went through this very dynamic and fortunately is doing much better now. But will you walk through how this happens?
Sam: Because I think people just … They don’t understand how it could be the pharmacological company’s fault.
Pap: Let me tell you how it is, okay? Purdue comes up, nobody ever heard of Purdue. It’s a little upstart company. They come up with Oxycontin, they do more political influence then ever, trying to get the FDA to overlook the fact that when the FDA first looked at Oxycontin they said, ‘You know, this stuff’s bad. I mean, we can’t put this out there. It’s too addictive,’ and then they do their PR lobbyist thing and all of the sudden the FDA does what they always do, they cave in and say, ‘Oh yeah, well maybe we got it wrong. We’re gonna allow the sale of it.’
The first year I think the company made like 148 million, something like that, 150 million. But by the third year they were making two and three billion dollars a year because the FDA became the endorsement of legal drug pushers. When you start digging into the issues it becomes clear the drug company executives knew that this was gonna happen. There’s no questions. The documents show it. They were concerned about it. But they did nothing because they knew that this was a get rich quick scheme. There’s a direct correlation between the increase in opioid prescription and the increase of overdose deaths in the United States.
There’s not guesswork. I mean, all you have to do is we charted it out. We’re handling these cases for governments throughout the country and when you chart it out there’s this correlation is overwhelming. It’s a correlation that drug companies executives known about, but they saw it … You see, we may look at that and say, ‘Oh, this is terrible.’ No, they looked at it, they had the same projection. Sam, they had these projections after the first year of sales. They could extrapolate if we go to particular areas with these particular social issues, then we’re gonna dump drugs into this particular area and we’re gonna make money.
They had it analyzed down to the area of the country. Like West Virginia for example. Or Southern Ohio.
Sam: I want to get to those places in a moment, but what existed before? I mean, how is it … Because presumably, right? These people aren’t going to buy this Oxycontin or Fentanyl-
Sam: -over the counter, right? They’re getting it prescribed by a doctor.
Sam: So what changed? What did doctors used to do? How did they get duped?
Pap: Here it is, there’s a term. Sam, there’s a term. There’s a term called “Off-Label.” Off-label means … Where you typically see off-label is a drug company has come up with a new product, okay? But they can’t sell enough of the product if they just use it for a narrow thing, such as when Oxycontin was coming they used … It was very specific, okay? It was used two days, three days after major surgery and then no more, okay?
Then all of a sudden the detailers and the drug companies come in and say, ‘You know, you don’t really have to worry about that,’ because their big push was that it is not addictive. Their role in this crisis, you’ve gotta go back to 1990s when the opioid based painkillers were first released. At that time the FDA doctors groups, and even the drug companies sales reps, were … by the documents it shows very clear they were concerned about the addictive quality of the opioids.
They understood that patients could easily become addicted to the painkillers, pills were too easy for patients to overdose on, but rather than the FDA demanding that the drug companies carry out extensive testing they caved in like they always do and these groups are more than happy to accept … doctors are more than happy to accept drug companies assurances and they went out, Sam, and they lied to the people that they were selling this to for easily a year and a half.
Just out and out lied and said, ‘Look, we’ve tested. These painkillers are less addictive than other opioids.’ And that’s all it took. That one lie from the drug companies, a lie that continued for more than a decade, really. There’s something that’s called a tail, there’s a tail of an event. The event is the drug company going out and saying, ‘Don’t worry about. They’re not addictive.’
Now the tail of that is how long does that message-
Sam: Resonate through.
Pap: Exactly. And how long does it take to correct that tail that follows the message? Look, this is absolute a 101 Marketing. They know that, they understood it, so what they’ve did is ‘If we can get them started, we can get these doctors started using this for things that know it should not be used for, and we can have the doctors believing that it’s not addictive, then we’re gonna be okay because the hold will take place.’ Their doctors told them that these pills, when a patient would go, these pills weren’t addictive because the drug companies told doctors that they weren’t addictive.
Pap: In fact the drug company Purdue who makes Oxycontin had to pay 600 million dollars, which is nothing, in 2007 after a lawsuit proved that executives, especially the lawyers who were working for the company, and medical officers who were working for the company, were absolutely lying. Nobody has gone to jail over it, the lawyers still have their licenses, the medical officers still have their license, but they were lying when they told doctors and the public these pills were less addictive and more effective than other painkillers on the market.
Purdue knew they were exaggerating the effectiveness and once you get hooked, Sam, everybody said, ‘Oh gee, I can just stop.’ No. This drug isn’t built like that. This drug is built to grab you the same way heroin will grab you. As a matter of fact, what we find is when they pull opioids off the market in an area like West Virginia where it’s used heavily or Southern Ohio or Kentucky or some of these Southern states, they find that the thing that comes in next is heroin. Because they are so hooked onto the exact same feeling that the Oxycontin gave them.
Mike Papantonio Exposes the Deadly Prescription Painkiller Crisis in America
Papantonio: According to the data for the Centers of Disease Control, 91 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids in the form of both prescription drugs and drugs like heroin, but now opioid painkillers are becoming one of America’s people killers. The opioid painkiller Oxycontin was approved by the FDA in 1995 and it made it’s way on to the market in 1996. That first year it pulled in 45 million in profit for Purdue Pharma. At the time, few people had ever heard of this drug company, but the company knew that their blockbuster painkiller was going to make them hugely wealthy. In just 15 years, their profits from Oxycontin had topped more than 3 billion a year. While Purdue was busy counting their cash, they completely tried to avoid counting the dead bodies that their product was leaving behind, but Oxycontin was just one of those several based opioid drugs on the market that were killing patients addicted and, ultimately, causing their deaths.
In no time at all, Purdue’s competition, they entered the market of painkiller and we soon saw pills being pushed by Pfizer and by Johnson & Johnson and by Teva and countless others. They became FDA approved addictive drug pushers almost overnight, so it’s no surprise that in the years since 1999 prescriptions for opioids have quadrupled in the United States and, not surprisingly, deaths from prescription painkillers have also quadrupled. Again, an average of 91 Americans die every day from an opiod overdose. It’s that spike in deaths that’s created a new wave of lawsuits against the drug companies that I just mentioned.
According to lawsuits that have been filed by the state of Kentucky, the city of Chicago, and a hand full of other counties across the country, these corporate drugs hustlers clearly knew about the addictive qualities of their drugs. They knew that overdoses and death were, overwhelmingly, common, but they did nothing, nothing at all to warn the public about what their own data was showing. The lawsuits show that as a result of the companies withholding information, the cost of hospitalization, ambulances, and all that treatment fell on the cities and the states. Taxpayers had to pay for that at the end of the day.
Lawsuits also show that these drug companies engage in consumer fraud, misrepresentation, false statements, false claims, false insurance fraud, and just a whole host of different types of unjust enrichment, but Big Pharma had other plans in dealing with their self-created opioid problem. Anytime there’s an ugly epidemic of death in the United States, even one created by Big Pharma, you can bet the drug company executives are working on a way to profit from it. That’s where the prescription painkiller story starts taking a really interesting turn. Recognizing that the corporate-driven drug abuse problem was getting out of hand, the drug Suboxone is created for the purpose to wean people off of painkillers. Suboxone combines an opioid painkiller with a drug that causes intense withdrawal effects. The idea is to break addiction because the body begins to associate painkillers with negative symptoms.
Indivior, the maker of Suboxone, is now the target of lawsuits brought by 35 state attorney generals for illegally blocking competitors from even entering the market. Not only did Big Pharma bring us the opioid epidemic, but they also created the cure and then tried to block cheaper, alternative drug therapies from even entering the market. Exactly the kind of conduct that we’ve learned to expect from the 21st century drug cartel.
Joining me now to help me explain the opioid crisis that we’ve currently experienced in the United States and to give us some insight into the growing litigation is Attorney Peter Mougey.
Peter, start by telling us how bad this problem with painkiller, this epidemic that we’re seeing, how bad is it?
Mougey: It’s hard to put into a few words, I mean it’s catastrophic. All you need to know at the end of the day is that opioid-based drugs are almost identical to heroin in the chemical makeup, number one. Number two, you need to know that more people have died from opiate overdoses and opiate use than all the Americans that died in Vietnam. Well, why is this happening? The reason why is because opiates were always used for end of life, like pain management, short-term, small, compact time periods where addiction really wasn’t the primary concern. What happened is, is that Big Pharma devised a marketing plan that was intricately laid out across the United States through a series of doctor visits, objective studies that downplayed or overrode or minimized the addictive nature.
Papantonio: Okay. Peter, let me ask you this.
Papantonio: The law suits that have been filed, what do we already know about the drug companies behavior in covering up the addictive nature of these pain pills? In other words, you had detailers, people who sold these drugs, they’d show up in a doctor’s office and say, “Gee, doc, you know you can use this for other things besides this serious type of procedure that you just performed. You can use it for virtually everything.” They were trying to expand their market, but what are the documents showing about what we’re seeing right now.
Mougey: The documents are showing is that Big Pharma knew, unequivocally knew about the addictive nature and the highly, highly dangerous nature of these drugs over the long-term and instead of relaying those risks, they downplayed the risk through targeted market ads. You mentioned the detailers, a scheme of marketing across the country, that they went out and pretty much said, “These drugs are safe to use for long-term.” Pap here’s what the key is. I don’t care if it’s a young man, woman in a high school or a college athletic event, it’s a veteran coming home, someone that has long-term chronic pains, dentists, even migraines, the doctors were prescribing based on the information given by Big Pharma, long-term pain treatment through these opiate-based drugs. It was never designed to be used long-term and, essentially, it tricks the brain into thinking, “I need the drugs. I need the drugs. I need the drugs,” and over time, you’ve got this tremendous epidemic across the country that we have 5% of the population in the US and over 80% of the opiate use.
Papantonio: Your solution is this, when you have the addiction, you also have all the illnesses related. You have death related. You have the hospital care related. You have the rehab related. You have all of these costs that the city of the state has to bear, so the people you’re representing actually are saying, “You know what, why doesn’t the drug company, have to pay for this? They knew exactly what they were doing. They made billions of dollars lying to everybody, lying to doctors, lying to regulators. Why don’t they have to pay for part of this?” Isn’t that the theory of your lawsuit?
Mougey: That’s exactly right. Essentially, Big Pharma’s created this mess. They’ve created the problem. They’ve laid out this drug that’s hit our high schools, our colleges, our vets, our business people, somebody that goes in for back pain and comes out 60, 90 days later addicted to opiates. If you’re going to reap the profit from those prescriptions and from that marketing push, you’ve got to pay to help clean it up. You’ve got to pay for the doctor’s visits. You’ve got to pay to get these folks off the drugs. You’ve got to clean up this mess and they have to stop prescribing it, they have to stop violating the marketing laws, and they need to clean up the mess. They can’t push it on to the cities, the states, the counties, the municipalities-
Papantonio: Ultimately, Peter, the taxpayers are having to pay for all this. Okay?
Mougey: There’s no doubt about it.
Papantonio: If you’re watching this show, you’re thinking, “Well, how does this affect me?” Well it affects you because the company made a billion, billions of dollars creating drug addicts across the United States. They knew they were creating drug addicts. Isn’t that part of the problem?
Mougey: It’s exactly the problem. At the end of the day, we can’t afford to pay our pensions, we can’t afford our essential services, our cities are underfunded in large part because of messes like this, where we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars in cities across the country to pay for the mess that Big Pharma created and Big Pharma profited about. It’s time for them to clean it up. It’s as simple as that and that’s what these lawsuits are doing.
Papantonio: I’m, as you know, hugely critical of the FDA and the Justice Department for never doing their job. Did they do better here? Is there any sign that maybe they did better, at least in regard to creating drug addicts all over the United States?
Mougey: They have done. There have been huge fines levied against Big Pharma, but what it shows you at the end of the day is that fraud pays, misrepresentation pays. Hundreds of millions of dollars in fines hasn’t slowed these guys down. These fines started in ’06, ’07, and ’08 and what have you seen? You’ve seen marketing costs increase. You’ve seen opiate use increase. You’ve seen the problems increase. Yes, they did levy huge fines, but here at the end of the day, no one’s scared Pat. At the end of the day, nobody’s scared, fraud’s cheap. We pass along the fines to the shareholders and we continue this huge push across the country. At the end of the day, somebody’s got to be held accountable personally for this stuff to stop.
Papantonio: You know, here you have drug dealers who dressed up in Armani suits. They don’t look like the guy that’s on the street corner. They’re in Armani suits. They drive around in Mercedes-Benz and have Rolex watches. Don’t you have to throw some of those drug dealers in jail because they clearly knew what they were doing? Is that the solution here?
Mougey: It is the solution and I don’t care if you go from Wall Street to Big Pharma to corporate fraud, we see these repetitive problems over and over and over again because no one’s getting held accountable personally and getting put in jail. Think about it. This stuff’s heroin. At the end of the day, it’s heroin. It’s the same chemical compound as heroin and we’re pushing it on kids, on vets, on business people in the community that come in for chronic back pain. They leave addicted a couple months later, several months later and no one’s held accountable while Big Pharma lines their pockets with the profits they’ve made from mismarketing, misleading, and deceptive sales practices used in our cities and countries and hospitals around the country.
Papantonio: Peter I’ve got less than a minute left, but one thing I’m seeing as I follow this story is the most creative, the most aggressive, and most effective AGs around this country and the mayors even around this country, it’s those people who are fighting back and those are the people you’re working with I take it? About 20 seconds.
Mougey: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. We’re meeting with municipalities, with states, with cities around the country that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year cleaning up this mess that are going to recover or attempting to recover their cash out waste from Big Pharma.
Papantonio: Okay. Got to go. Thank you for joining us. Good luck out there, okay?
How Insys Therapeutics Paid Doctors Millions in Kickbacks to Prescribe Fentanyl
How Big Pharma Is Profiteering in the Wake of the Opioid Crisis
OPIOIDS: Big Pharma And The Feds Create A New Trail Of Tears For Native Americans
Trump’s Government Fails To Address Opioid Epidemic, So States Take Action Against Big Pharma
Donald Trump talked a really good game about how he was going to tackle the opiod crisis in the United States during the campaign. He said we're going to devote money, we're going to devote resources, we're going to get people better. We're going to solve this problem once and for all.
Well, after seven months of complete inaction other than carrying forward a few programs from the Obama administration that had been put in place, on August 8th, Donald Trump finally gave his big speech or announcement or whatever you want to call it, about the opiod epidemic in the United States. As it turns out, that speech contained absolutely nothing of substance. Donald Trump's speech basically amounted to Ronald Reagan's campaign of "Just Say No" because Trump said maybe we should, you know, maybe, maybe talk to our kids and tell them, "Hey, opioids, those are bad things that you should probably stay away from. Bad. They'll mess you up." That's what we got, folks. That's the big plan from the Trump administration to address the opiod epidemic is, hey, tell your kids these things probably aren't that great. That's not a plan. That's something people probably are already doing. So, lacking a federal plan to take on the opiod epidemic.
States, specifically the state of New Hampshire this week, has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of OxyContin, for mislabeling and lying about the addictive properties of their blockbuster drug. Here's the thing. Before Purdue came out with OxyContin, nobody knew who Purdue Pharmaceutical was. They weren't making very much money. Finally, they derived this opioid-based painkiller, again, OxyContin, and suddenly they saw their sales skyrocket within 10 years into the multi-billion dollar level. The opiod crisis in the United States is a multi-billion dollar a year industry for Big Pharma.
States like New Hampshire have had enough. Because while Big Pharma profits from this, do you know what happens when somebody overdoses on opioids and somebody has to call an ambulance and they get rushed to the hospital or you find somebody lying on the street that's overdosed on opioids? The cities, the states, have to cover those costs. Taxpayers are footing the bill for this, just like all of the deaths and illnesses related to the big tobacco deaths.
That's what sparked that litigation and now cities, states, attorneys across this country, they're trying to do the same thing to opioids. The manufacturers of these drugs, including Purdue with their OxyContin, lied about the addictive qualities of these pills. All they did when they told doctors about their new blockbuster pain medication was that it really helped people with their pain issues. They didn't tell them that it was as addictive as heroin. They just told them that it was great, they're not all that expensive, and people can take them and feel better and go about their lives. They left out the part where people get hooked on these things because of their highly addictive qualities and end up dying. People are dying in this country every single day from the opioid epidemic that was 100% caused by Big Pharma.
The Trump administration's approach to this is go talk to your kids about it. Grownups in the United States are taking action and they're taking on those responsible. They're taking on companies like Purdue Pharma and other Big Pharma corporations that are making a killing while American citizens are dying at an alarming rate.
When Will The DOJ Focus On Opioid Execs?
Papantonio: For the last 18 months, the issue of healthcare and the behavior of the entire healthcare industry has been making headlines. Whether it’s Republicans trying to dismantle the few improvements that have been made to the health insurance system, or greedy Pharma executives price gouging consumers, Americans are being fed a steady stream of news regarding the healthcare industry.
And that’s exactly what Big Pharma wants. The news might not always be flattering, but as long as the public is only focused on price gouging, then they aren’t talking about the opioid crisis that Pharma created; a crisis that is claiming the lives of tens of thousands of American citizens every single year.
In 2015, there were more than 52 thousand deaths in the United States attributed to drug overdoses. About two-thirds of those deaths came from opioids like Oxycontin, Percocet, heroin and Fentanyl. That’s more people than died from auto accidents or firearms in the United States. Big Pharma’s argument is that they can’t control whether or not a person overdoses on their medication.
But when you start to dig into the issue a little deeper, it becomes clear that drug company executives knew this was going to happen, but did nothing because they knew they’d get rich off overdoses. According to a 2015 the study published in the Annual review of Public Health, there is a direct correlation between the increase in opioid prescriptions and the increase in overdose deaths in the United States. And that’s a correlation that Drug company executives have known about for a long time.
To understand Big Pharma’s role in this crisis, we have to go back to the 1990’s when these opioid-based painkillers were released. At the time, the FDA, doctors groups, and even drug company sales reps were concerned about the addictive quality of opioid painkillers. They understood that patients could easily become addicted to painkillers and that these pills were very easy for patients to overdose on.
But rather than demand that drug companies carry out extensive testing, these groups were more than happy to accept the drug companies’ ridiculous lies and assurances that their painkillers were less addictive than other opioids. That’s all it took for doctors. Doctors clearly knew better though.
That one lie from drug companies, a lie that continued for more than a decade, is what led hundreds of thousands of Americans to become addicted to opioid painkillers. Their doctors told them that these pills weren’t addictive because the drug companies swore to them, the doctors, that they weren’t addictive. They made it sound like there was something magic about their opioids.
The drug company Purdue who makes Oxycontin, had to pay out more than $600 million dollars in 2007 after a lawsuit proved that executives, lawyers, and medical officers for the company were lying when they told doctors and the public that their pills were less addictive and more effective than other painkillers on the market. Purdue exaggerated the effectiveness and safety of Oxycontin, while covering up all the criticisms and complaints about the drug. And if you want to know why they did this look no further than this 1996 memo from a Purdue sales manager telling her staff to urge doctors into giving out stronger doses of Oxycontin, ‘sell them more,’ she said. The memo was literally titled “It’s Bonus Time in the Neighborhood!”
Similar allegations have been made against other drug companies that make opioid-based painkillers, and at the root of each of these stories is a company’s never-ending quest for more money, more profits. And right now, American taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for the deadly disaster that Big Pharma created.
For more on the opioid crisis, let’s go to attorney Jeff Gaddy who’s representing groups that have been harmed by opioid painkillers. Jeff, take us back to the beginning here. How did drug companies manage to get away with the big lie that their opioid painkillers weren’t addictive? Because that’s what they were telling doctors and that’s what they were telling patients for 10 years. What’s your take?
Jeff: You’re exactly right, Mike. Thanks for having me on. The short answer to your question is that the companies got away with this by weaving a web of lies. Look, opioids have been used for decades to treat short-term pain management. I’m talking one or two days after a surgery or a trauma incident, but what these drug companies figured out was that if they could find a way to convince the medical community that they could use these opioids for long-term pain management, weeks or even months, that what they could do is they could turn their millions into billions. That’s what they’ve done. At the time, they knew they couldn’t do it with science because the science was against them. What they did, and it’s quite incredible, Mike, but what they did was they went back to their archives and they found a letter to the editor of a medical journal from 1990 where two doctors had written in and provided some anecdotal evidence that they did not see addiction in some hospital patients.
What the drug companies did was they took this letter the editor five sentences long and they cited that letter hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. They used that letter and they used other bogus evidence and that they used it to convince the doctors and the health care providers that opioids were not addictive and they used it to perpetuate the myth that opioids could be safely prescribed for long-term use. Look where we are. You just mentioned that in 2015 we had 52,000 deaths. The New York Times just came out this week and said last year it was up to 59,000 deaths. The problem’s just getting worse.
Papantonio: Well look, to be clear, from what we’ve seen from the documents of some of these cases, it’s absolutely clear that drug companies knew how addictive these pain killers were. Yes, you got it right. They were telling the doctors, they were telling patients that ours is different, that our painkiller is much different, but there was really no question while they were saying, that regardless of what this journal said that opioids aren’t addictive, their own studies were showing that they’re absolutely addictive. Did I get that right?
Jeff: There’s no doubt about it, Mike. It’s a story that I know you’ve seen in your line of work time and again, corporate greed. Like I said, these companies knew that they could turn their millions into billions by perpetuating this lie. That’s exactly what they did. Don’t think for a minute that this 1980 article had any scientific value in it what so ever. The authors of that article are shocked and astonished in the way that … Excuse me for calling it an article … that letter to the editor was used to perpetuate this lie. But no, these companies like you brought up, Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, they plead guilty to criminal violations. McKesson, one of the biggest pharmaceutical distributors in the country, paid $150 million in civil penalties to the DEA. Cardinal Health paid $44 million. But just like you said, Mike, this is the cost of doing business to these folks. One of these companies had an internal motto of get them high and hope they don’t die. This is their business plan.
Papantonio: Now, there are a lot of different areas of litigation with opioids, Jeff, but one that’s received I guess the most attention is the suit that’s been brought by the Cherokee Nation. Can you tell us about that case? These are the kind of suits that I understand you’re handling. You’re handling cases on behalf of cities and counties. There’s a lawyer in West Virginia that’s way ahead of everybody. His name is Paul Farrell, just a brilliant young trial lawyer that is actually breaking … He is the one coming up with this new methodology to go after these companies. Paul Farrell I think is his name. I think you’ve worked with him. Tell us kind of what’s happening out there generally to push back to these companies. What’s happening?
Jeff: You’re right about the suit that was brought on behalf of the Cherokee Nation that has received a lot of attention for two reasons primarily. First, you’re talking about a population of individuals who just historically have been treated terribly, and as it relates to the opioid epidemic, they’ve been hit just as hard as anyone else. Unfortunately, as they’ve alleged in their complaint, it’s a population that is more prone to addiction. They’ve been absolutely preyed upon by the pharmaceutical industry as it relates to these pills.
The second reason that I believe this suit has gotten a lot of attention is that not only did the Cherokee Nation go after … I’m not talking about Fortune 500 companies, I’m talking Fortune 25 companies. They went after some of the biggest companies in the US. Not only did they go after them, but they filed a lawsuit against them in tribal court. They looked these big companies in the eye and they said, ‘We’re going to hold you accountable and we’re going to do it on our own turf.’
Papantonio: This is what Paul Farrell is doing in West Virginia too. I mean, he’s taking county by county, city by city, where we see that they’ve dumped the opioids in there. The tax payer has to pay for the cleanup. The county loses huge amounts of money. Then there’s this, quickly tell us what the tail is. Once the opioid comes in and everybody’s addicted and then the opioid leaves town, what’s left is what they call the tail of the disaster. Explain that.
Jeff: What we’ve seen, Mike, and what the tail is is heroin. We’ve seen state by state by state get proud of themselves and pat themselves on the back for shutting down pill mills. What they’re now finding out state by state is that when the pills dry up, the heroin moves in. It happened in Kentucky. It’s happened in Ohio. It’s happening all over the country. It’s just a matter of time before it’s happening everywhere.
Papantonio: Jeff, I think what’s going to be important is that the suits that you’re, the kind of lawsuits you’re bringing on behalf of counties and cities and states along with Paul Farrell, I think your methodology is brilliant. I really do believe that in the end, that’s what’s going to be the biggest push back here. Full disclosure, I’m involved with that also, but for the life of me I haven’t figured out any way to go after these companies other than simply taking their money away from them, their huge profits, because they’ve made billions of dollars at the expense of people’s lives. Thanks for joining me.
West Virginia Federal Judge Stands Up To Corporate Opioid Thugs
Finally tonight some good news from West Virginia as a judge fights to reveal the dark details of opioid distribution. U.S District Judge Joseph Goodwin refused to accept a plea bargain in a drug case saying that the deal “was made in the context of a clear, present, and deadly heroin and opioid crisis in this community.” Adding that, “The secrecy surrounding plea bargains in heroin and opioid cases frequently undermines respect for the law and deterrence of crime.”
Statistically, the percentage of federal criminal convictions obtained by a plea bargain jumped from 50 percent in 1908 to 97 percent in 2015. That’s mostly because corporations are allowed to pay big fines and no one goes to jail in the plea bargain. Why such a jump, is justified by some saying that the courts and prosecutors are overwhelmed.
But it’s a hard justification to stand by when on average each federal prosecutor handled 0.29 cases as of 2016. In 1973 it was 8. West Virginia has the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the country. Hopefully with this decision, all the dark details behind the corporate driven opioid crisis is brought to light no matter where the trail leads us.