Letter to the Editor: This could be huge

Pray that the attorneys suing drug makers and distributors win billions of dollars, to send a very clear message. You killed thousands of our children, and we will not stand silent!

Although 13 companies were initially listed as defendants, pre-trial settlements (with details in many cases “swept under the carpet” by confidentiality agreements) now left just a couple of companies in active litigation: Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, which produced opioid drugs, including Nucynta and the fentanyl patch Duragesic. However, the outcome of this case certainly will affect more than 1,500 other similar cases pending before a federal judge in Ohio.

The problem here will be for the plaintiffs to prove what the law calls “causation.” That is, they must prove that these defendants caused the harms which occurred — countless overdoses and deaths suffered by users of their products. That will be tricky, because there are others involved in the chain of distribution, such as the prescribing doctors themselves.

However, unless the jurors have been living in outer Siberia for the past decade, thus unaware of the massive problems with opioids flooding our country, plaintiffs have a sympathetic jury. Given skillful attorneys, and with the evidence to be disclosed showing that the makers knew of the dangers and pushed their products anyway (which I dare predict the evidence will show), the plaintiffs could win an astronomical amount of money.

The case is similar to the cases which put the tobacco companies nearly out of business (defendants knowingly sold a product which they knew was harmful), with one big difference being that opioids do have a legitimate purpose: soothing acute pain. I don’t think that difference will save these defendants from an adverse verdict.

Every American should watch what happens in this case, given the millions of families affected by the opioid crisis and that it has cost all of us billions of tax dollars trying to deal with the problems — the overdoses, the arrests and incarceration of so many users and distributors, the investigations, and more.

Ken Abraham

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