“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is a complex public health challenge that requires a collaborative and systemic response that engages all stakeholders,” says John Parker of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance.
“It’s also critical to understand the role of each stakeholder across the supply chain,” he adds. “Distributors do not conduct research, manufacture, market, or prescribe medications, nor do they influence prescribing patterns, the demand for specific products, or patient-benefit designs. The idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated.”
Well, maybe so, but there’s common sense and then there’s dollars-and-cents, and it’s the latter that seems to be driving opioid lawsuits like the one filed recently by Dallas toxic tort firm Baron & Budd on behalf of the city of San Antonio.
Whether or not it “defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated,” the 277-page claim has been filed under the RICO act, naming the usual (asset-rich) suspects/targets and accusing them of, among other things, “unjust enrichment”: Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Actavis, CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, et al.
“These pharmaceutical companies aggressively advertised to and persuaded doctors to prescribe highly addictive, dangerous opioids, turning patients into drug addicts for their own corporate profit,” the Baron & Budd suit charges, as if doctors were innocent pawns and had no responsibility for the drugs they prescribe to their patients.
“Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation,” says Parker, and so they would be – if addressing the root causes were their motivation.
Clearly, it’s not. Clearly, redirecting blame is the name of the game. If litigation leads to liquidation and legitimate enterprises that serve the common good are destroyed, so be it – so long as the greedy cities and counties and counterfeit crusaders suing on their behalf all enjoy the “unjust enrichment” ascribed to their targets.