Law Professor John V. Jacobi was featured in Time magazine on the implications of the newest lawsuit filed against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin.
Filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, this latest suit, which weighs in at 277 unredacted pages, is, notes Time, "just one of thousands of legal complaints brought against Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies by plaintiffs across the country, many of which have been rolled into one multi-district litigation in Ohio federal court."
The article, "Allegations Against the Maker of OxyContin Are Piling Up. Here's What They Could Mean for the Billionaire Family Behind Purdue Pharma," also notes that executives from Purdue Pharma "admitted in federal court in 2007 that Purdue's marketing practices and interactions with doctors had understated the strength and addictive potential of the drug — an omission that many experts believe contributed to an opioid epidemic that claimed nearly 50,000 American lives in 2017 alone."
Jacobi, who is the Dorothea Dix Professor of Health Law & Policy and Faculty Director of the Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy at Seton Hall Law, served as Senior Associate Counsel to N.J. Governor Jon S. Corzine on Health, Human Services, and Children's Issues and is known as "the state's foremost expert on the intersection of health law and policy."
Regarding the suit against Purdue Pharma, Time magazine notes,
John Jacobi, a professor of health law and policy at Seton Hall Law School, called the Massachusetts complaint "extraordinary in the length and depth of the allegations against individual defendants," but says it is "more or less consistent" with the roughly 1,200 complaints included in the Ohio MDL, as well as the hundreds of others individually making their way through state court systems.
And for that reason, Jacobi says, Purdue could be facing consequences much larger than those included in Healey's complaint. Opioid manufacturers could face a situation similar to the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with Big Tobacco, which forced five major manufacturers to pay out billions of dollars over cigarette marketing and promotional practices. (Mike Moore, the lawyer who orchestrated the Master Settlement Agreement, is now bringing a new suit against opioid distributors and manufacturers. He was not immediately available for comment to TIME.)
"Many people have suggested that the only way out of the thicket that all of these litigants find themselves in would be some sort of global settlement similar to what was achieved in the tobacco litigation, and I don't think that’s a far-fetched suggestion," Jacobi says. "All of those, at some point, will be gathered up and resolved."
Read more of the Time magazine article, "Allegations Against the Maker of OxyContin Are Piling Up. Here's What They Could Mean for the Billionaire Family Behind Purdue Pharma."