Both criminal and civil charges against major opioid manufacturers and distributors have become commonplace nowadays. In New York and Massachusetts, individual executives were charged with racketeering after flooding the streets with their drugs. Oklahoma recently won a landmark lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for costs to the health care system. Most recently, Purdue Pharmaceuticals settled thousands of opioid lawsuits alleging their drugs caused harm to an untold number of patients.
In light of this, opioid companies have been accused of being drug and addiction peddlers and information that has recently come to light might provide the proof needed to back up that claim. Recently unsealed documents in a landmark civil case in Cleveland reveal how opioid companies targeted the DEA by enlisting members of Congress to weaken the agency. There appears to be a concerted effort to push back against the agency that is tasked with preventing the trafficking of drugs in the U.S.
According to recently uncovered documents, opioid companies commissioned a crisis playbook that was designed to facilitate the legal sale of their drugs to Americans in pain. At least one of these tactics involved blaming the DEA and the federal government for precisely what they were guilty of: Softening restrictions allowing the sale of dangerous narcotics. The documents were unsealed as recently as July.
In 2016, the pharma lobby convinced then-President Obama and Congress to consider them as “partners” in the resolution of the opioid crisis. As part of the ensuing legislation, known as the Marino Bill, Congress was able to officially suspend operations that sanction drug companies that failed to follow the law. No one in the administration nor the man who sponsored the bill, Tom Marino have spoken openly about the problems this may have caused.
The lawsuits, which were filed in Cleveland in federal court on behalf of 2,000 cities that saw a meteoric rise in the number of deaths attributed to opioids, are pursuing the case under the RICO act which is better known for taking down criminal organizations, gangs, and the mafia than filing civil suits.
For the argument to fly in court, the plaintiff’s attorneys will need to show that the named defendants in the lawsuit conspired and coordinated efforts to weaken the DEA’s ability to prosecute cases allowing them to get away with unlawful conduct. Meanwhile, proponents of the bill claim that the intent of the legislation was not to make it more difficult for the DEA to prosecute drug companies. Nonetheless, it appears that the drug companies were secretly hoping to achieve just that effect and now there’s a paper trail to prove it.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re an executive at a major pharmaceutical company, the hammer may be on the verge of dropping. Before it does, contact the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today. We can help ensure that you aren’t charged with first-degree murder for distributing narcotics that resulted in death.