“…it should not be used as a pain reliever.” [Bill Childs]
— Bill Childs (@billchilds) December 25, 2015
“Following in the footsteps of two California counties, the city of Chicago this week filed suit against five pharmaceutical companies, contending that they drove up the city’s costs by overstating the benefits of their addictive painkillers and failing to reveal the downside of taking the drugs.” [ABA Journal, Bloomberg] The city’s press release asserts, among other things: “there is no scientific evidence supporting the long-term use of these drugs [opioids] for non-cancer chronic pain.”
Suits like this are typically, though not invariably, concocted by private law firms which then pitch them to governments hoping for contingency-fee representation deals. (Orange and Santa Clara are the California counties that have signed on to such actions.) For more on the war on painkillers and their marketing, check the ample resources at Reason mag from Jacob Sullum, Brian Doherty, and others; note also a recent book, A Nation in Pain by Judy Foreman, via Tyler Cowen. Our earlier coverage is here.
“So we now have a politician directly dictating medical policy to doctors at city hospitals.” [Radley Balko]
P.S. In the mayor’s view, just as you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, so you can’t fight painkiller abuse without overriding doctors’ judgment: “so you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit…. there’s nothing perfect.” [Colin Campbell, Politicker]
Pennsylvania: “A York man who pleaded guilty to illegally selling prescription drugs is suing the doctor who prescribed the painkillers to him for medical malpractice and medical negligence.” [York Daily Record]
And from the same state: veteran who broke into a pharmacy to steal drugs sues Veterans Administration for not having given him better mental health counseling. [Times-Leader]
For your own good, of course — and so that they can make more arrests. [Radley Balko]
…so prosecutors in Morris County, N.J. seized his family’s three cars. “Neither of the parents were aware of their teenage son’s prescription painkiller use, nor were any of the cars registered in his name. The family currently has no means to get to work or transportation. Gerald Trapp Sr. is a Bloomfield police officer.” The youngster, Gerald Trapp Jr., 19, accepted a diversion program for first-time offenders in lieu of trial but did not admit any wrongdoing. (Peggy Wright, “Prosecutor wants to keep 11 seized cars”, Oct 27; TheNewspaper.com, Oct. 28)(via Nobody’s Business, Oct. 28).
West Virginia: “A state Supreme Court ruling says juries can decide if residents who have broken the law by obtaining and using prescription painkillers can sue physicians and pharmacies for their addictions.” [Chamber-backed W.V. Record]
The close working relationship between some state attorneys general and private trial lawyers — in which the AGs hire the lawyers to represent their states for a percentage fee of the haul — is not a new topic to us here at Overlawyered, but it’s nice to see it getting aired at length in the Dec. 18 New York Times piece by reporter Eric Lipton. The title gives a good introduction: “Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue” and in fact the private lawyers who commonly pitch the suits are themselves sometimes former state attorneys general, such as Michael Moore of Mississippi (of longstanding fame here), Patricia Madrid of New Mexico, Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island, Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, and Peg Lautenschlager of Wisconsin. A few excerpts: