By Jennifer Oliva and Nicolas P. Terry
The much publicized settlement between Purdue Pharma, its Sackler family owners, and the Oklahoma attorney general that we have discussed here, here, and here, posed an overarching question: Post-Oklahoma, would the opioid litigation center of gravity swing back from the states to the federal opioid multidistrict litigation in Cleveland (discussed in detail here)?
A month later, the Cleveland case remains muted, particularly so for the reporters trying to cover what is happening in Judge Polster’s courtroom where, once again, sunshine seems discouraged. In contrast, outside the Northern District of Ohio, the action has been fast and furious and that’s before the promised Oklahoma trial against the non-Purdue defendants.
Speaking of settlements, West Virginia, the state with the highest drug overdose rate in the United States, settled its claims against “Big Three” drug distributor McKesson Corporation for $37 million on May 2. West Virginia had accused McKesson (America’s largest drug distributor and seventh on the 2019 Forbes Fortune 500 list with an annual revenue north of $208 billion), of negligently flooding the state with prescription opioids.
West Virginia’s complaint against McKesson was damning, alleging, among other things, that the drug distributor sent approximately 1.4 million prescription opioids or 118 opioid painkillers per resident to modestly-sized Grant County, West Virginia alone over a five-year period. Read More