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The Opioid Epidemic: Legal Challenges to Drug Manufacturers

In a new policy brief, America’s Essential Hospitals examines the multitude of lawsuits local, state, and federal governments are pursuing against opioid manufacturers and distributors for their role in the opioid crisis.

To date, states, cities, counties, and Native American tribes have filed hundreds of civil lawsuits in state and federal court against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s provide an important example of how states might use any funds recouped through litigation.

The brief outlines the current state of play across the country and how governments at every level are seeking restitution for the high costs incurred by the crisis, in which essential hospitals play a key role in prevention and treatment.

Policy Brief – The Opioid Epidemic: Legal Challenges to Drug Manufacturers

Key Takeaways:

  • The opioid epidemic is devastating communities across the country, fueling a spike in overdose deaths, and creating a financial strain on all levels of government and among health care providers.
  • Essential hospitals continue to play a unique role in preventing and treating opioid addiction and they bear the associated financial burden.
  • Federal, state, and local governments, as well as some providers, seek financial restitution for the costs of the opioid epidemic through litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
  • There are important, applicable lessons from the tobacco settlements of the 1990s, which results in massive settlements, though the uses of that revenue vary greatly between states.

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