West Virginia Targets August for $1.25B Opioid Settlement

Following a week-long set of discussions between legal teams for both the plaintiffs and defendants in the global opioid litigation, it appears that the state of West Virginia is one step closer to reaching settlement and begin implementing efforts to combat the epidemic which has hit the state hard. This comes as Thursday, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia David A. Faber announced an August 31st trial start. While the plaintiffs lawyers targeted a June start, this advancement now positions the nation’s three largest drug distributors, Cabell County and the City of Huntington towards an earlier settlement, estimated at $1.25 billion.

While discussions around an $18 billion national settlement fell apart this past month, the West Virginia plaintiffs saw an opportunity in which these settlement funds could be substantially more impactful than what the state would receive as part of any global settlement. The offer, which will remain viable until the trial start, excludes allocations for legal fees, which would be decided at a later point through a separate state panel.


Associated Press – $1.25B West Virginia Opioid Settlement Trial Date Set

Charleston Gazette-Mail – Judge Sets Trial Date for Cabell County, Huntington Opioid Lawsuits

Bloomberg Government – West Virginia Plan: Companies Pay $1.25B To End Opioid Suits

House E&C Holds Hearing on Dozen-Plus Opioid Bills

On Tuesday, the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing focused on potential legislative options to better address issues related to access, coverage and reimbursement for novel and evidence-based interventions for substance use disorder, building upon the Committee’s landmark SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act passed in October 2018. In total, 14 bills were discussed across two panels; the first helmed by three federal leaders from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, followed by panel covering state, local, clinical and advocacy perspectives. Overall, members were looking to identify areas where improvements to policy and implementation were available. These bills are likely to be taken up by the Committee in the near future.

Capturing the need for a comprehensive and coordinated response across the aisle, Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) noted in his opening remarks, “It is critical that we look at substance use disorder as a complex but treatable disease of the brain. Whether an individual has a substance use disorder in a hospital or within a criminal justice setting – they are a patient. We must address this epidemic as the true public health crisis it is.”

Articles & Resources

House Energy & Commerce Committee Hearing on “Combatting an Epidemic: Legislation to Help Patients with Substance Use Disorders”

Majority Staff Hearing Memo

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

Vox – She Wanted Addiction Treatment. She Ended Up In The Relapse Capital of America

Inside Health Policy – Substance Use Disorder Coordinating Committee Holds First Meeting

Danville Register – In Federal Court, Former Danville Hospital Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Medication

The Colorado Sun – A Decade Into the Opioid Crisis, Colorado Hospitals Have Changed the Way They Treat Opioid-Exposed Babies. And It’s Helping.

The British Medical Journal – Associations Between Stopping Prescriptions for Opioids, Length of Opioid Treatment, and Overdose or Suicide Deaths in US Veterans: Observational Evaluation

The Times Union – Editorial: Tax on Pain Would Be Cruel Medicine

Biden For President – The Biden Plan to End the Opioid Crisis

Vox – Joe Biden’s New Plan to End the Opioid Epidemic is the Most Ambitious in the Field

Department of Justice – Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the Department of Justice’s 2020 National Opioid Summit

U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada – Reno Doctor Pleads Guilty To Prescribing Oxycodone And Hydrocodone Not For A Legitimate Medical Purpose

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin – Hobart Resident Sentenced to 50 Months in Federal Prison for Selling Drugs Via the “Dark Web;” Forfeits $1.5 Million

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California – San Mateo Doctor Charged With Unlawful Distribution Of Opioids And Health Care Fraud

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia – Doctor Pleads Guilty to Illegal Distribution of Adderall, Oxycodone

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine – Surry Man Sentenced for Trafficking in Counterfeit Pills Containing Carfentanil

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio – Youngstown Physician Indicted for Operating a ‘Pill Mill’ That Distributed Controlled Substances, Including Opioids, and Causing the Deaths of Two Patients

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio – Marietta Doctor Convicted of Illegally Distributing Opioid Pain Meds, Health Care Fraud

This Week’s Calendar

With the passage of the supplemental appropriations package for COVID-19 in the rear-view, the House and Senate are set to remain busy for the coming week. While there are no other hearings noticed at this time, we will make additional information available should House or Senate calendars change.

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