Oklahoma’s recent settlements with Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, and the trial in the state’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, signal that the opioid epidemic is entering a new era of accountability. Hundreds of cities and counties and about 2 dozen states are also pursuing litigation against opioid manufacturers.
The legal system should hold the pharmaceutical industry responsible for the overzealous, misleading, and, at times, illegal marketing of opioids. Regulators should consider new ways to monitor drug manufacturers to reduce the chances of such conduct in the future. Yet the lessons of the opioid epidemic go further. It is important for physicians, payers, hospitals, and accreditors—as well as for patients and their families—to consider what else went wrong and what can be fixed moving forward, so that a tragedy of this scale does not occur again.
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Sharfstein JM, Olsen Y. Lessons Learned From the Opioid Epidemic. JAMA. 2019;322(9):809–810. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9794
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