Opioid Litigation: The Defense Perspective

George R. Talarico

April 23, 2018

The opioid litigation landscape continues to evolve, with over 200 lawsuits currently consolidated in the multidistrict litigation (MDL), In re: National Prescription Opiate Litiga­tion, MDL No. 2804, in the Northern Dis­trict of Ohio and being overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster. New opioid cases continue to be filed (inside and outside of the MDL) with no signals of a slowdown.

As the opioid litigation continues to progress, attorneys on both sides will adjust their strategies to adapt to new information. This point was apparent at the recently held Responding to the Opioid Crisis: Litigation, Regulation, & Reform conference at The Union League of Philadelphia.

The two-day conference covered some of the most pressing issues affecting both defendants and plaintiffs. There were many engaging talks that provided different perspectives from a variety of stakeholders – including academia, government (e.g., attorney generals, law enforcement), advocacy and educations groups (e.g., Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP)), trade organizations (e.g., Abuse Deterrent Coalition (ADC)), opioid manufacturers, defense and plaintiff attorneys, consultants, and technology firms (e.g., PROVE IT!). While different views were shared on the genesis and potential solutions to the opioid epidemic and ongoing legal battles, there was some common ground shared by all stakeholders. That is, the opioid epidemic is ravishing communities across the nation and sensible solutions are needed to curtail the current epidemic and provide safeguards from this happening again in the future.

On the first day of the event (April 16, 2018), Giovanni Ciavarra, PhD (Innovative Science Solutions) together with George Talarico, Esq. (Sills Cummis & Gross) presented the Defense perspective of opioid cases.

Mr. Talarico provided a concise summary of the history of the opioid litigation and how it has evolved from the first phase in the early 2000s to the current second phase. Mr. Talarico described the types of plaintiffs and defendants involved in both phases including the theories of liabilities and associated defenses. Dr. Ciavarra then discussed the huge volume of new scientific information emerging on various topics related to opioids, and how tracking this new science can help inform not only potential new risks but also help develop better defenses. In addition, Dr. Ciavarra covered the basics of pharmacogenomics and how this type of information could come into play in future opioid defenses from a metabolism and dependence/addiction perspective.

For a complimentary copy of the Talarico/Ciavarra PowerPoint presentation, please contact Amy Davis, Director of Marketing, Sills Cummis & Gross, at (973) 643-4285 or