States must not get addicted to quack lawsuits (Aug. 27): An Oklahoma judge was dead wrong Aug. 26 in ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 millionto help fight the opioid crisis, and West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey was equally wrong Aug. 23 to file lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

In Oklahoma, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman ruled that Johnson & Johnson somehow used deceptive and manipulative marketing practices to convince doctors to overprescribe addictive pain-killing medication. In West Virginia, Morrisey is making a similar claim.

The claims are bunk, on multiple levels.

Consider that Judge Balkman is holding J&J responsible not just for its own drugs, but for drugs manufactured by other companies after they bought mere ingredients for the drugs from J&J. Moreover, as the pharmaceutical company’s lawyers noted, “Never once, however, did the state identify a single Oklahoma doctor who was misled by a single statement” made by the company or its subsidiary….

In opioid suits, the lawyers are the real ‘public nuisance’ (Aug. 28): Riddle me this: If states are suing pharmaceutical companies for billions of dollars to help fight the opioid epidemic, but the payouts don’t actually go to individual, innocent opioid addicts, then who, pray tell, actually benefits?

Holy shakedown, Batman! The answer is obvious. It is the lawyers, who don’t even need the help of the Riddler or the Joker for them to laugh all the way to the bank.

First, let’s be clear: As the Wall Street Journal explains, the entire legal ruse upon which these suits are built is “dangerous” to the system of justice and the commonweal. The ambitious state attorney’s general misuse of so-called “public nuisance” laws to assess huge financial penalties, when the actual, intended remedy for even true nuisance violations is usually to merely “enjoin or correct [the] nuisances.” Worse, they make the manufacturer liable for a “nuisance” that occurred only after the actions of several intermediaries, over which the manufacturer has no control.

This isn’t how things are supposed to work….


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