One of the newer symptoms of this so-called “Opioid Epidemic,” is a rash of litigation targeting pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. Currently, there are actions underway in Texas, West Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Washington, Illinois, California, New York and more new suits are being filed.

In each of these claims, specific acts and specific harms attributable to actual elements of causation must be determined. This is difficult to do when the quality of the ostensible harm, the full diasporic spectrum of the “epidemic,” is so variable. Furthermore, there are a plethora of intervening actors between pharmaceutical companies and the community, any of whose independent behavior could supersede and break the causal chain required to hold opioid manufacturers liable. For example, studies conducted by the University of Arkansas looking at the transition from acute to periodic opioid use seem to suggest that the most effective way of reducing the risk of abuse might be through doctors limiting initial prescriptions, leaving shorter periods of time between refills, and so preventing unnecessary accumulation of medication. Continue reading our client advisory here.