Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Drug laws’ Category

An Indiana county just halted a lifesaving needle-exchange program, citing the Bible

leave a comment »

German Lopez reports in Vox:

“People will absolutely die as a result.”

That’s how Chris Abert of the Indiana Recovery Alliance described the consequences of an Indiana county’s decision to stop a needle exchange program, which provides clean syringes to drug users in an effort to stop the spread of infectious blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

Lawrence County commissioners’ reasoning: morals — and the Bible.

“It was a moral issue with me. I had severe reservations that were going to keep me from approving that motion,” County Commissioner Rodney Fish, who voted against the program, told NBC News. “I did not approach this decision lightly. I gave it a great deal of thought and prayer. My conclusion was that I could not support this program and be true to my principles and my beliefs.”

Before he cast his vote, Fish quoted the Bible — specifically, 2 Chronicles 7. It says, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

The empirical evidence, however, is on the needle exchange programs’ side. Abert said that it’s led to a 50 percent decrease in hepatitis C cases in Lawrence County so far this year. And multiple reviews of the evidence by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others have overwhelmingly supported needle exchanges.

Abert also argued that, if anything, the Bible teaches people to help those in need — exactly what a needle exchange program aims to do. “Christians believe their spiritual life is defined by how well they mirror Christ’s work in their daily lives,” he told me.

But that didn’t persuade commissioners, and they voted against the program.

Indiana’s troubled history with needle exchanges

This isn’t the first time needle exchange programs have proven controversial in Indiana.

In 2015, the southeastern part of the state suffered an HIV epidemic linked to the injection use of Opana, a prescription painkiller that’s been widely misused throughout the opioid crisis. Back then, state lawmakers — including then-Gov. Mike Pence — were opposed to a needle exchange program. It was only after the HIV epidemic worsened that Pence finally relentedallowing a needle exchange program in Scott County and later signing a law that lets counties set up needle exchange programs if they prove they have an epidemic.

But some counties have been resistant to the concept. NBC News reported that earlier this year, Madison County also shut down a needle exchange program due to pressure from the local prosecutor and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who was elected in November and opposes needle exchange programs.

Lawrence County was among the several that got permission for a needle exchange program. But this month, the program was halted pending reapproval from county commissioners. The law requires county approval for the program on an annual basis, even though the needle exchange does not use county or state funding.

On Tuesday, county commissioners voted against the needle exchange program. They heard from some members of the community who were opposed to the program, but Abert said that a drug court judge, academics, and health care providers also testified in favor of it. Ultimately, the commissioners sided with the opposition.

“It came down to morally, they’re breaking the law. I can’t condone that,” County Commissioner Dustin Gabhart said, according to Indiana Public Media. “Yes, it’s a problem. Yes, it needs to be resolved. I could not give them the tools to do it.”

Needle exchanges save lives. Period.

The common argument against needle exchange programs, echoed by Indiana officials, is that they enable drug use by providing people with the tools to use drugs. And, they claim, that may lead to more drug use.

The claims are not borne out by the evidence. A 1998 study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University found needle exchange programs generally reduced the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. A 2004 study from the World Health Organization, which analyzed two decades of evidence, produced similar results. A 2016 review of 15 studiesby the CDC did as well.

As one example, the CDC noted that once Washington, DC, was able to implement a needle exchange program, an evaluation “showed a 70 percent decrease in new HIV cases among [injection drug use] and a total of 120 HIV cases averted in two years.”

This is, frankly, not a remotely controversial topic in the research: Needle exchange programs save lives. Many people are going to find ways to use drugs no matter what, and providing them with clean syringes at least eliminates some of the risk tied to that drug use.

Experts also say needle exchange sites can be crucial for linking people to addiction treatment. For an upcoming story, John Brooklyn, an addiction doctor in Vermont, told me that these programs can be critical for “meeting people where they are.” The idea is simple: Addiction treatment staff can drop by these needle exchange programs and offer their services. People won’t always take up the suggestion, but it helps reinforce that treatment is around and available. . .

Continue reading.

It’s an odd morality that condones actions that will result in people dying who otherwise would not die. I would not call it a Christian outlook.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2017 at 12:42 pm

One drug dealer, two corrupt cops and a risky FBI sting

leave a comment »

The blurb:

Davon Mayer was a smalltime dealer in west Baltimore who made an illicit deal with local police. When they turned on him, he decided to get out – but escaping that life would not prove as easy as falling into it.

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reports in the Guardian:

On a humid summer day in 2004, Davon Mayer stepped out of his house on Bennett Place in the heart of Baltimore. Sixteen years old, Davon was short, plump and baby-faced, still more of a kid than an adolescent. Like many other boys in his neighbourhood, he had long since stopped going to school and was dealing drugs full-time.

On any other day, Davon would have been busy by this hour, trading vials of crack for cash on the pavement, keeping an eye out for the police. But this morning, he was on his way to meet with a narcotics detective named William King. Weeks earlier, the detective had arrested Davon after catching him selling drugs. He had taken Davon to the police station and then let him go, asking that Davon call him. When Davon failed to call, King had paid him a visit to let him know he wasn’t playing around.

As Davon walked to a nearby strip mall where King had arranged to meet, his mind was weighed down by anxiety. What could a city detective possibly want from a small-time drug dealer such as himself? The only answer Davon could think of was that King wanted him to become an informant. The more Davon dwelled on that possibility, the more panicked he got. Where he came from, there was nothing worse than helping the police. To snitch on fellow drug dealers was to invite death.

He got to the mall’s parking lot and saw King’s pickup truck. King was sitting behind the wheel, dressed in sweatpants and a T-shirt. He asked Davon to get in the back seat and turned on the engine. “I have been watching you,” King said, as they drove around. “I like the way you do business.”

Growing up, Davon’s parents weren’t around much. His father, Marvin “Bunk” Nutter, spent much of his son’s childhood in jail on robbery and murder charges. Davon’s mother, Tonya, spent some of those years in jail, too, for drug possession, and the rest on the streets, sustaining her crack addiction with prostitution. Davon reserved the word “Ma” for his grandmother, Norma, who had raised him, along with his sister and a cousin.

Norma was a small woman with a big presence, a matriarch to the entire block. She had fought her own battle with drug addiction when she was younger; at one point, her kids had been taken away by social services. When she finally overcame her addiction, she committed herself to discipline and order, toiling from morning till night to take care of her husband, a factory worker, and three grandkids. The entire block could be dirty and dishevelled but the front of 947 Bennett Place was always spick and span.

What Davon didn’t know at the time was that Norma couldn’t remain insulated from the world of drug dealing herself. Even though her husband earned enough for her to be able to feed and clothe the kids, she struggled to find the money to take care of their wants – toys for Christmas, gifts on birthdays, an occasional afternoon out to the movies. And so she had to make a few bucks on her own. There were drug dealers in the neighbourhood who trusted Norma to keep their money safe for them, to provide a place where it wouldn’t be stolen or discovered in a police raid. Dealers usually paid her a small amount for the service.

Despite Norma’s best efforts, by the time Davon was about 11, he began to feel the pull of the drug business. He was growing more and more conscious of all the things he wanted that his grandmother couldn’t give him. All the boys he knew in the neighbourhood seemed to own a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers, but not even in his wildest dreams could he ask Norma for the $100 it would cost to buy a pair.

Davon told a friend, AC, who worked for a dealer in west Baltimore, that he wanted to make some money. One morning, AC took Davon to see one of the dealer’s men, LJ, outside a row of apartment buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue. Davon felt himself trembling a little as LJ looked him over from head to toe. Then he handed Davon a sandwich bag with 50 vials of crack, each capped with a purple top.

Davon slid the pack of vials into his pocket as LJ and AC walked off. He stood nervously in the fenced passageway leading to the door of the apartment building, wondering what he would do if the cops came. Minutes later, a young woman with a sickly pallor came out of the apartment building; recognising him right away as the seller, she asked him for a vial. After Davon had sold to her, he turned around to find a crowd of at least a dozen other buyers waiting on the sidewalk. The pack was gone within minutes.

LJ gave him another pack, which Davon dispensed with in short order. At the end of his first day’s work, Davon had $750 in dollar bills. It was more cash than he had seen before. He was allowed to keep $75. Walking back to Bennett Place, Davon felt a sense of exhilaration.

Over the summer, as Davon’s shoebox savings grew, he couldn’t resist the Jordans, deluding himself that they would somehow escape notice at home. But one night, when he was sitting in the living room talking on the phone, his mother Tonya overheard him bragging about the sneakers.

“Davon, where did you get these shoes from?” Tonya asked him.

“I got them from Bunk,” he answered, without skipping a beat. His father had got out of jail the previous year, and came around every few days.

Tonya didn’t believe him. She called Bunk, and he came over the next day to take the shoes away and give Davon a beating. He warned Davon to stay off the streets. But Davon was back on Pennsylvania Avenue the very next day. He was hooked on the money he was making. A few weeks later, he packed up his things and left home.

As he built up a reputation for hard work, Davon’s boss gave him more drugs to sell and his earnings went up to more than $500 a day. He had moved into the apartment building where he’d been selling drugs, living with an addict named Lisa who let him stay in a spare bedroom in exchange for her daily fix of crack. At night, he would lie on the floor of his bare room, longing for the comfort of the bed he had left behind at Norma’s house. Sometimes, staring out of the window, he would feel so overcome by loneliness that he would break down and cry.

One afternoon in August 2000, Davon was caught selling drugs by police. He felt a tingle of excitement as he was marched into a police van. He would finally be able to brag about having been to jail. The price of this glory would be minimal, too: as a minor, he expected to be let off lightly.

Davon was released later that day, returning home with his mother. Over the next few days, he mulled over whether to return to Pennsylvania Avenue. He didn’t want to go to prison and decided he was better off going to school, which was about to reopen after the summer break. He was also concerned about Norma, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

From the very first day of school, Davon felt a restlessness that quickly transformed into a yearning for his old life. At school, the popular kids were much better dressed than he was. The girls he liked paid him no attention. Davon felt he had taken a big step down in status.

Frustrated, he decided to dip his toe back into the drug business. After school let out in the afternoon, he would go over to a street three blocks from Bennett Place and hustle for a couple of hours before coming home. By the winter, he had saved enough money to buy his first car, an old Grand Marquis. He didn’t want Tonya or Norma to see it, so he parked it a few blocks away and walked the rest of the way home.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 2001, Norma’s health worsened. She would spend most of her time in bed. One day in November, after Davon had started in 10th grade, he went into Norma’s bedroom to check on her. She looked like she was napping, but he touched her, and she was cold.

Two years later, Davon lost another family member, when his father was shot in a revenge killing. That night, for the first time in his life, Davon got drunk. Sitting by himself, he wept uncontrollably, although he would never quite understand why he felt so much grief over the loss of a father who had barely been present in his life.

By this point, Davon had long since quit school and his drug-dealing career was taking off. He had seen smalltime dealers in his neighbourhood remain stuck at the bottom of the pyramid, and he hustled day and night to move up. Once he realised there was more money to be made from selling heroin than crack, he branched out into a neighbourhood west of Bennett Place. He was making more than $1,500 a day. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2017 at 10:57 am

Legal marijuana is saving lives in Colorado, study finds

leave a comment »

The above interesting graph is from Christopher Ingraham’s column in the Washington Post, which begins:

Marijuana legalization in Colorado led to a “reversal” of opiate overdose deaths in that state, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health.

“After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years,” write authors Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar.

The authors stress that their results are preliminary, given that their study encompasses only two years of data after the state’s first recreational marijuana shops opened in 2014.

While numerous studies have shown an association between medicalmarijuana legalization and opioid overdose deaths, this report is one of the first to look at the impact of recreational marijuana laws on opioid deaths.

Marijuana is often highly effective at treating the same types of chronic pain that patients are often prescribed opiates for. Given the choice between marijuana and opiates, many patients appear to be opting for the former.

From a public health standpoint, this is a positive development, considering that relative to opiates, marijuana carries essentially zero risk of fatal overdose.

Now, the study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that similar findings hold true for recreational marijuana legalization. The authors examined trends in monthly opiate overdose fatalities in Colorado before and after the state’s recreational marijuana market opened in 2014. They attempted to isolate the effect of recreational, rather than medical, marijuana by comparing Colorado to Nevada, which allowed medical but not recreational marijuana during that period.

They also attempted to correct for a change in Colorado’s prescription-drug-monitoring program that happened during the study period. . .

Continue reading.

I don’t think the beneficial effects of legalized marijuana will cut much ice with Jeff Sessions. He really doesn’t care about harm or not, it’s a cultural issue to distinguish “us” and “them” so far as he’s concerned.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 October 2017 at 6:57 pm

Manchin calls on Trump to withdraw Marino’s nomination as drug czar in wake of Post/‘60 Minutes’ probe

leave a comment »

This is why good investigative journalism is important, and those exposed as dishonest and corrupt will always cry “fake news” because they do not want their misdeeds exposed. Ed O’Keefe, Scott Higham, and Lenny Bernstein report in the Washington Post:

Congressional Democrats on Monday reacted sharply to reports that President Trump’s nominee to serve as the nation’s drug czar helped steer legislation that made it harder for the federal government to take some enforcement actions against giant drug companies.

One Democratic senator called on Trump to withdraw the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position requiring Senate confirmation. Another quickly unveiled legislation to undo the law that Marino championed and that passed Congress with little opposition.

In a statement, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) said he was “horrified” to read details of an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” that detailed how a targeted lobbying effort helped weaken the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continue to rise. He called on Trump to withdraw Marino’s nomination.

“During the biggest public health crisis since HIV/AIDS, we need someone leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy who believes we must protect our people, not the pharmaceutical industry,” Manchin said in a statement.

In a separate letter to Trump, Manchin said that more than 700 West Virginians died of opioid overdoses last year. “No state in the nation has been harder hit than mine,” he wrote.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) also said Monday that she would be introducing legislation to repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016. The law, she said, “has significantly affected the government’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors that are failing to meet their obligations and endangering our communities.” . . .

Continue reading.

The concluding paragraph shows how the US government fights transparency and disclosure:

. . . The DEA and Justice Department have denied or delayed more than a dozen requests filed by The Post and “60 Minutes” under the Freedom of Information Act for public records that might shed additional light on the matter. Some of those requests have been pending for nearly 18 months. The Post is now suing the Justice Department in federal court for some of those records.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 October 2017 at 9:25 am

The drug industry’s control of Congress led to the opioid epidemic

leave a comment »

Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein report in the Washington Post:

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino,a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.

For years, some drug distributors were fined for repeatedly ignoring warnings from the DEA to shut down suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of pills, while they racked up billions of dollars in sales.

The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, according to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article. That powerful tool had allowed the agency to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street.

Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill, including nearly $100,000 to Marino and $177,000 to Hatch. Overall, the drug industry spent $106 million lobbying Congress on the bill and other legislation between 2014 and 2016, according to lobbying reports.

“The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before,” said Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who ran the DEA’s division responsible for regulating the drug industry and led a decade-long campaign of aggressive enforcement until he was forced out of the agency in 2015. “I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests in the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.”

Besides the sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill, few lawmakers knew the true impact the law would have. It sailed through Congress and was passed by unanimous consent, a parliamentary procedure reserved for bills considered to be noncontroversial. The White House was equally unaware of the bill’s import when President Barack Obama signed it into law, according to interviews with former senior administration officials.

Top officials at the White House and the Justice Department have declined to discuss how the bill came to pass.

Michael Botticelli, who led the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy at the time, said neither Justice nor the DEA objected to the bill, removing a major obstacle to the president’s approval.

“We deferred to DEA, as is common practice,” he said.

The bill also was reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“Neither the DEA nor the Justice Department informed OMB about the policy change in the bill,” a former senior OMB official with knowledge of the issue said recently. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of internal White House deliberations.

The DEA’s top official at the time, acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg,declined repeated requests for interviews. A senior DEA official said the agency fought the bill for years in the face of growing pressure from key members of Congress and industry lobbyists. But the DEA lost the battle and eventually was forced to accept a deal it did not want.

“They would have passed this with us or without us,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Our point was that this law was completely unnecessary.”

Loretta E. Lynch, who was attorney general at the time, declined a recent interview request.

Obama also declined to discuss the law. His spokeswoman, Katie Hill, referred reporters to Botticelli’s statement.

The DEA and Justice Department have denied or delayed more than a dozen requests filed by The Post and “60 Minutes” under the Freedom of Information Act for public records that might shed additional light on the matter. Some of those requests have been pending for nearly 18 months. The Post is now suing the Justice Department in federal court for some of those records.

Hatch’s spokesman, Matt Whitlock, said the DEA, which had undergone a leadership change, did not oppose the bill in the end.

“We worked collaboratively with DEA and DOJ . . . and they contributed significantly to the language of the bill,” Whitlock wrote in an email. “DEA had plenty of opportunities to stop the bill and they did not do so.”

Marino declined repeated requests for comment. Marino’s staff called the U.S. Capitol Police when The Post and “60 Minutes” tried to interview the congressman at his office on Sept. 12. In the past, the congressman has said the DEA was too aggressive and needed to work more collaboratively with drug companies. . .

Continue reading.

There’s a lot more. Read the whole thing. The Federal government is failing the American public.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 October 2017 at 8:03 am

The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes On the Opioid Industry

leave a comment »

Esmé E Deprez and Paul Barrett report from Bloomberg:

Seven years ago, Mike Moore stepped from the 2 a.m. darkness into the light of a small home off Lakeland Drive in Jackson, Miss., to find his nephew close to death. The 250-pound 30-year-old was slumped on the living room couch, his face pale, breath shallow, and chest wet with vomit. It was his fiancée who’d called Moore, waking him in a panic. Now they were both screaming in the man’s ears, dousing him with ice cubes and water, and pinching him as his respiratory system began to collapse.

Moore had become familiar with the signs of an overdose since his nephew, for whom he’s a father figure, filled his first legal prescriptions in 2006 for Percocet, an opioid painkiller made by Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. By 2010, his nephew, who asked not to be named, was obtaining generic fentanyl on the street. Another synthetic analog to the opium poppy, fentanyl—the drug that killed Prince—is as much as 100 times stronger than morphine. The night of the overdose, Moore’s nephew had been wearing a fentanyl patch on his arm and sucking on another. “An ordinary horse would have been dead,” Moore recalls in his Mississippi drawl.

Rather than waiting for an ambulance, Moore dragged his nephew to his car and raced toward the hospital. As doctors revived the unconscious man, the stares of the staff and other patients were made worse for Moore by recognition. Once his home state’s highest-profile public official, now he was just one more American confronting the opioid epidemic.

Moore, who’s 65, served as Mississippi’s attorney general from 1988 to 2004. In 1994, using an untested and widely derided legal strategy, he became the first state AG to sue tobacco companies for lying about nicotine addiction and hold them accountable for sick smokers’ health-care costs. A Democrat, he marshaled AGs from around the country along with private plaintiffs’ lawyers who stood to reap massive fees. He went on to negotiate the largest corporate legal settlement in U.S. history: a 50-state, $246 billion agreement that funds smoking cessation and prevention programs to this day. He even scored a Hollywood credit, playing himself in The Insider, the 1999 thriller about a tobacco industry whistleblower, starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

After his 16 years as AG, Moore left public service for a private-sector salary, opening a practice in the Jackson suburb of Flowood. The Mike Moore Law Firm specializes in complex disputes between states and companies. This spring he finished helping oversee negotiations between BP Plc and the federal government, five states, and 475 municipalities, which resulted in a $20 billion settlement for damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Moore now lives near Orlando, with his wife, four rescue dogs, and Jade, a capuchin monkey. He’s remained immersed in anti-tobacco efforts, chairing such nonprofits as the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi and the Truth Initiative. But as he’s watched the tobacco victory pay off in declining smoking rates, he’s also seen easy access to powerful pain medication spark a new deadly crisis. He’s convinced this is the moment to work the same mechanisms on the drug companies that forced the tobacco industry to heel—and he’s committed himself to making that happen.

On June 20, 1997, a coalition of state AGs stood behind a podium in the grand ballroom of the ANA Hotel in Washington to announce the culmination of a four-year effort. They’d filed so many individual, expensive lawsuits that tobacco companies were cornered into negotiating a collective settlement instead of fighting each one separately. The agreement punished the industry for past misconduct, created a fund to pay for tobacco-related medical costs, and banned using Joe Camel in advertisements. “We wanted this industry to have to change the way they do business—and we have done that,” a youthful Moore said to the roomful of journalists and cameras.

Twenty years later, in mid-July 2017, he was back at the same hotel, now a Fairmont. In a third-floor meeting room, he and more than a dozen private attorneys sat around a rectangular conference table discussing strategies for the legal battle they’d helped ignite with companies that make, distribute, and sell opioids.

Aided by the lawyers in the room (and others, including high-profile and high-profiting alumni of the tobacco wars, such as Joe Rice and Steve Berman), 10 states and dozens of cities and counties have sued companies including Purdue Pharma, Endo, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals—beginning in 2014 but mostly in the past few months. (Forty state AGs have launched preliminary investigations as a way to gauge the viability of litigation.) The suits allege that the companies triggered the opioid epidemic by minimizing the addiction and overdose risk of painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Duragesic. Opioids don’t just cause problems when they’re misused, the suits argue: They do so when used as directed, too.

The opioid epidemic cost the U.S. economy $78.5 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a quarter of which was paid by taxpayers through increased public costs for health care, criminal justice, and treatment. The industry, the suits contend, should bear the financial burden of this wreckage.

Paul Hanly Jr., a Manhattan attorney who’s filed on behalf of almost a dozen cities and counties, opened the discussion at the Fairmont with lessons from previous suits. P. Rodney Jackson, a lawyer from West Virginia, got heads nodding with his recommendation that suits targeting manufacturers should be amended to add distributors who sell pills to pharmacies. A retired agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration, one of several consultants, laid out the fines that distributors and pharmacies have already paid after failing to follow federal requirements to report suspiciously large pill orders.

Officially, Moore’s name is listed only on cases filed by Mississippi, which was the first state to sue, and Ohio. But this belies his outsize role in convening the like-minded while envisioning the long-term, big-picture strategy. “We’re trying to build coalitions, because it won’t get done with me and our little team,” he says, referring to a core group of longtime friends that includes former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, the first Republican AG to join the anti-tobacco crusade, and Chip Robertson, a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri who helped his state sue tobacco companies.

Just as he did during the tobacco-litigation era, Moore has been . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 October 2017 at 2:06 pm

Fascinating story of competition among flavored-toothpick cartels in grade school

leave a comment »

Just read it. It seems pretty clear that the whole thing was a control issue. Schools do tend to be authoritarian, one of their drawbacks.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 September 2017 at 4:25 pm

%d bloggers like this: