CEPOP Hosts Nationwide Safe Disposal Strategies Webinar

On Monday, CEPOP hosted a widely attended national webinar focused on safe disposal strategies to help address prescription opioid misuse, abuse, and diversion and implications for the broader response to the national opioid epidemic. We would like to take this moment to specifically thank our speakers:

  • Dr. Chad Brummett, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of Anesthesia Clinical Research at the University of Michigan Medical School
  • Dr. Jennifer Cooper, Principal Investigator, Center for Surgical Outcomes Research & Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice, Nationwide Children’s Hospital at The Ohio State University
  • General Arthur T. Dean, Chairman and CEO, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America

A recording of the webinar along with the final agenda and slide deck is available on the CEPOP website.

As a reminder, our next CEPOP All-Participants teleconference will occur on Monday, December 9th at 3:00pm ET. Please let Matt Rubin know if you have not received the calendar appointment. Agenda and related materials are forthcoming.

Negotiation Class Opt Out Deadline Passes for Opioid MDL

Friday was the deadline for cities and counties to opt-out of the novel Negotiation Class that will be used to help determine the fate of the multidistrict opioid litigation and the type of settlement available to those plaintiffs. However, two of the nation’s largest counties have since opted-out of the Negotiation Class in an apparent effort to seek greater flexibility and power in reaching settlement. Palm Beach County, Florida and Harris County, Texas (which includes portions of Houston) have both withdrawn from the Negotiation Class. To accept any potential settlement, the Negotiation Class would need to find a supermajority of 75% of plaintiffs to proceed. However, the current structuring of the Negotiation Class would not permit local municipalities to stay in the Class and review potential settlement offers. Rather, Judge Dan Aaron Polster set a November 22 deadline for the decision. Decisions to withdraw from the Negotiation Class could have significant impacts on the size and scope of settlement agreements recognizing the pressure from those larger plaintiffs that have yet to begin negotiations. In total, more than 33,000 local city and county governments would be eligible to participate.

This week, Judge Polster also announced the anticipated schedule for the forthcoming bellwether trials as part of the broader national response to the opioid epidemic. In a series of trials throughout 2020, Judge Polster will provide the opportunity for a variety of plaintiffs to have their time in court. In shifting the timeline up, it is believed that Judge Polster is hoping to either expedite settlement discussions or force both parties to bring their arguments to life. Polster himself will oversee an October 2020 case in the Northern District of Ohio between five pharmacy companies and Cuyahoga and Summit Counties, the two plaintiffs in the initial MDL trial. In another filing on Tuesday, Judge Polster also suggested that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) identify three cases for bellwether trials in the year ahead, including lawsuits in Chicago (against opioid manufacturers), San Francisco (against manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies), and the Cherokee Nation (against distributors and pharmacies; Oklahoma). Additional cases are also on Judge Polster’s radar pending the results of several ongoing motions.

Articles & Resources

Bloomberg Law – Deadline Hits for Local Governments to Opt Out of Opioid Class

Law.com – Thousands of Cities and Counties Face Deadline Today to Opt Out of Opioid Class Action

Law360 – Opioid MDL Judge Plots New Bellwether Trials Across US

NABP Issues Report Highlighting Opioid Availability Online

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) on Friday released its Rogue Rx Activity Report highlighting the continued proliferation of opioid advertisements and sales online. At a time when U.S. regulators are taking all available options to help combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, illegal online drug sellers remain a pervasive threat to a comprehensive response. Over the first half of 2019, NABP found more than 1,800 websites offering controlled substances with a far greater number of sites offering prescription-only drugs without a prescription or those unauthorized for sale in the United States. Nearly one-third of the 1,500-plus websites now identified as Not Recommended offered opioids and other controlled substances. Ninety-nine percent of those websites offered these products without a valid prescription and 94% offered drugs that were not approved by the FDA.

Articles & Resources

2019 Rogue Rx Activity Report

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

Representative Ann McLane Kuster – Bipartisan Opioid Task Force Holds Roundtable, “Smart Solutions: Protecting Our Communities” on Intersection of Opioid Crisis and the Criminal Justice System

U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Strategies to Improve Health Equity Amidst the Opioid Crisis (Webinar)

Associated Press – OxyContin Maker Thrives in China with Abandoned US Tactics

New York Times – Bankrupt Insys Reaches Deal to Divvy Cash Among Opioid Victims

STAT News – A New Bill Would Let More Doctors Prescribe Addiction Treatments Without Waiting for Insurers’ Permission

Bloomberg Government – Texas County’s Opt-Out from Opioid Settlement Could ‘Snowball’

Department of Justice – New Jersey/Pennsylvania Doctor Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes and Kickbacks In Exchange for Prescribing Powerful Fentanyl Drug

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama – Husband and Wife Sentenced in Connection with Pain Clinic Pill Mill Scheme

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia – Disgraced Drug Doctor’s Street-Level Dealer Sentenced to Federal Prison

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois – Chicago Pharmacy Technician Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Stealing Opioids and Selling Them for Profit

U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut – Superseding Indictment Charges Doctor and Alleged Co-Conspirator with Oxycodone Distribution Offenses

This Week’s Calendar – Welcome to Thanksgiving Recess!

The House and Senate are out all week for Thanksgiving Recess. At this time, however, there are no relevant hearings, briefings or events related to opioids on the calendar. Should there be any additions to House or Senate schedules or updates with respect to additional events, this information will be made available. Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

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