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Lawyers hope to do to opioid makers what they did to big tobacco

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Lawyer Michael Moore, who spearheaded the tobacco-litigation movement in the late 1990s, is now encouraging a similar movement to hold pharmaceutical companies financially accountable for the opioid epidemic.

Lawyer Michael Moore, who spearheaded the tobacco-litigation movement in the late 1990s, is now encouraging a similar movement to hold pharmaceutical companies financially accountable for the opioid epidemic. As Mississippi's attorney general in 1994, he popularized the use of outside counsel in government lawsuits claiming tobacco firms played down the dangers of smoking. Now, as a private attorney, he is consulting on cases against drug manufacturers in both his home state and Ohio and is pushing more jurisdictions to do the same. Four states so far are seeking damages from companies for aggressively marketing opioids despite the risks of addiction, and several cities and counties also are pursuing legal repercussions against the industry. Although the use of outside counsel in such cases has been criticized, government officials say it provides the manpower and money needed to pursue cases that they could not independently. Outside law firms typically are compensated only if a case is successful, and the payoff could be significant considering that opioids represent a $9 billion-a-year business in the United States. Moore insists that lawyers like him are not in it for the money. "I want there to be a huge amount of resources available for treatment," he says, "and I want the industry to change its practices."

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawyers-hope-to-do-to-opioid-makers-what-they-did-to-big-tobacco-1500830715?mg=prod/accounts-wsj

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