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Government Opioid Abuse: State AGs Target Painkiller Makers to Pad Their Budgets

Government Opioid Abuse: State AGs Target Painkiller Makers to Pad Their Budgets

By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Opioid abuse ranks among the nation’s biggest public health challenges with drug overdoses now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. While the causes are complex and multiple, politicians and their trial lawyer friends aren’t letting the crisis go to waste.

More than 20 state and local governments including Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi and nine counties in New York have sued prescription opioid manufacturers for fraud and deceptive marketing, among other supposed offenses. Ohio GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine’s lawsuit against Purdue, Janssen, Teva, Endo and Allergan has set a template for other states that are coordinating litigation.

Governments are farming out the legal work to trial attorneys who front the bills in return for a share—typically 20%—of the reward. States used this contingency-fee model to squeeze $206 billion from tobacco companies in the 1990s, and the ringleader of that effort, former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, is assisting with the opioid raids.

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