America’s big drugmakers and pharmacy chains are scrambling to respond to hundreds of lawsuits tied to the deadly opioid epidemic. Billions of dollars are at stake if the companies are found liable for fueling the crisis.
Even before judgments are rendered, companies like Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and CVS are already suffering damage to their reputations as evidence in civil suits reveals more about their internal workings.
“The narrative is clearly shifting on this story,” said David Armstrong, a senior reporter with ProPublica, who has covered the drug industry for years. “People want some sort of reckoning, some sort of accounting.”
One reason for the shift is that cities and states filing these suits are moving more aggressively to pull back the curtain on the drug industry’s practices, urging courts to make internal memos, marketing strategies and reams of other documents public.
“Our next battle is to get the depositions and the documents that are being produced made available to the public, instead of everything being filed under confidentiality agreements,” said Joe Rice, one of the lead attorneys bringing lawsuits against drug companies on behalf of local governments in Ohio.
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