State attorneys general are closing in on settling lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and the Sackler family who obscenely profited from the suffering these drugs inflicted on millions of Americans. Utilizing contingent counsel, the Attorney General of Oklahoma recently settled a case against Purdue Pharma for $270 million, $75 million of which is to come from the Sackler family.
Sadly, as I predicted in my January 2018 Op Ed in Buzz Feed that was based on the tobacco experience, Oklahoma legislators are now looking for ways to divert the money away from public health. While not a surprise, diversion of settlements from health will remain a major fight as other cases are resolved.
On a separate but vitally important development, the AG's of Massachusetts and New York, who are not using contingent counsel, are showing how the Sackler family sought to profit from both non-generic and generic opioids and, astoundingly enough, from the life saving prescriptions that are used to save lives of those who overdose on their products.
While many issues remain unclear, one unaddressed question is what the names of the law firms are who set up the complex corporate structures that led to so many deaths in so many communities. As with tobacco, unmasking the identity of those law firms is essential to justice.