JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri's attorney general is expanding the state's legal effort to hold drug manufacturers accountable for opioid addiction deaths, but some wonder if large-scale lawsuits are the best way to address the issue.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a motion last month to add additional claims to the state's ongoing suit against Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies. The additional claims include allegations of public nuisance and unjust enrichment.
"By expanding this lawsuit, we're sending a clear message that we aren't backing down from this fight," Schmitt said in a June 11 press release.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt | twitter.com/AGEricSchmitt
Schmitt's suit is just one of a number of suits filed by states seeking to hold Purdue Pharma and other manufacturers responsible for deaths related to the rise in opioid addiction.
But some question whether this type of complex, multi-state litigation is the best approach to holding companies accountable, and whether this approach has the potential to clog the legal system while bankrupting drug companies.
Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri, a trade group representing Missouri businesses, says his organization supports the state's efforts to fight opioid addiction, but doesn't know enough about the specifics of the suit to take a position yet.
"We really don't have any position on it at this time," McCarty said.
McCarty noted that his organization has taken positions on other issues related to the state's approach to addressing the opioid crisis.
"Regarding price fixing and those types of things with regard to drugs, we had taken a position against those movements, thinking that they're really misguided and getting into weighing in to the free market, and they'll stifle research and development," McCarty said.
But for AIM, that's as far as the discussion has gone for now.
"We really haven't gotten into these investigations at all, and really haven't discussed them as a group," he said.