The Sackler family is now sending signals that they are interested in a global settlement of the more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending against Purdue Pharma as a way to “to get the monies to the communities that need them”. The states and municipalities who brought these lawsuits should be asking themselves what remains to be done to quantify what would be needed to address the harms brought on their citizens by the scourge of the opioid epidemic.
From the very beginning of the opioids litigation this case was going to be driven by data – mountains of data from diverse sources including the FDA, the DEA, the defendants themselves, state and municipal agencies, community service organizations, hospital groups, and on and on. The plaintiffs have a very large task ahead of them to curate, preserve, organize, and analyze all of the information necessary to quantify damages and unearth the insights that will provide them with maximum leverage in negotiations.
That monumental task will require – as I am certain the leaders in this opioid litigation are already well aware – a concerted effort involving experts from diverse fields including lawyers, forensic accountants, data scientists, and experts familiar with pharmaceutical marketing, sales and distribution, law enforcement, social services, addiction treatment and healthcare delivery.
The best analyses are not performed by data scientists and accountants alone. They require a deep understanding of the subject matter at hand, and that means close cooperation with subject matter experts. The opioid crisis impacts almost every thread of the fabric of the affected communities, so a coordinated response from all of these disciplines is a must. While the Sacklers may be interested in settling sooner, the plaintiffs in this instance may want to be patient and give themselves the time they will need to collect and analyze the relevant data, consult the appropriate experts and prepare plans to provide justice to all those who have been harmed.