Sep 14, 2019

Drug companies in massive opioids lawsuit call for judge's removal over bias

Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm protest on Sept. 12 outside Purdue Pharma headquarters. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Drug companies in a massive legal battle over their alleged roles in fueling the opioid epidemic are calling for the federal judge in their case to be removed over the appearance of bias, the Washington Post reports.

Where it stands: These drug companies, which face thousands of lawsuits from cities and other communities, are scheduled for trial Oct. 21. The drug companies are "questioning" U.S. District Judge Dan Polster's "impartiality because he has consistently urged both sides to settle the case," per the Post.

What they're saying: The drug companies — defendants in the massive opioids trial — decry Polster and the court for "judicial and extra-judicial statements evidencing a personal objective to do something meaningful to abate the opioid crisis, with the funding to be provided through Defendants' settlements."

  • "This is simply a desperate move on the eve of trial by opioid companies that created, fueled and sustained the crisis following rulings by the court concluding that there is sufficient evidence to find that these companies created a public nuisance and conspired together to avoid regulation and sanctions," the federal opioid litigation co-lead plaintiff attorneys said in a statement on Saturday.

Read the drug companies' filing:

Go deeper: Purdue Pharma reportedly offers $10 billion to settle opioids lawsuit

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Johnson & Johnson settles with Ohio counties ahead of opioid trial

The Johnson & Johnson campus on August 28, 2019. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday that it has reached a $20.4 million settlement with 2 Ohio counties ahead of a massive opioid trial, under what the Washington Post describes as a "tentative" deal.

The big picture: These Ohio counties — Cuyahoga and Summit County — were set to be one of the first cases to go to trial from lawsuits brought by over 2,500 counties, cities, Native American tribes and others against nearly 2 dozen pharmacies, drug manufacturers, and distributors for their role in the U.S. opioid epidemic, the Post reports.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Drugmakers eye unusual opioids settlement

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Drug companies facing expansive litigation over their role in the opioid crisis are exploring settling the cases by participating in Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: If successful, this would either end or shrink the massive federal case pending in Ohio, but it would require a lot of buy-in, including from state attorneys general. The companies — Endo, Johnson & Johnson, Teva, Allergan and Mallinckrodt — want to contribute money to a trust while being released from all liability.

Go deeper: Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy test

Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, which faced thousands of lawsuits over the U.S. opioid epidemic, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the drug company said in a statement Sunday

The big picture: Per the Wall Street Journal, Purdue filed for bankruptcy with a more than $10 billion plan to settle claims in White Plains, New York — less than a week after reaching a tentative settlement with states and local governments suing the firm for its role in the opioid epidemic.

Go deeperArrowSep 16, 2019