Opioid Legal-Medical-Social Partnership

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NGO Newsletter Oct. 2018 →

The question for Hospital General Counsel →

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(1)

There is a national opioid addiction crisis and certain populations require attention via a medical-legal-social team approach to address their specific needs. These special populations include opioid-addicted babies, children forced into foster care due to addicted parents and other groups like public entities, rehab centers, workman’s comp programs, hospital ER centers, Native American Nations and others who are bearing extensive unreimbursed costs in dealing with medical monitoring, medical treatments and/or future treatments and evaluations related to this crisis.

(2)

These special populations need their own advocacy teams. The MDL Monopoly model perpetrated by the Tobacco litigation settlement is a failed model for the opioid crisis because it creates procedural layers which slow things down and send funds to the political spoils system, rather than to those who need it. For example, in the tobacco model, the awards went to state governments who required medical practitioners and hospitals to compete for grants, while the funds were used to plug budget holes. This model should be rejected in terms of an approach to the opioid crisis and a partnership strategy be adopted instead that directly funds those on the front-lines of treatment, need and service, especially hospitals and patients.

(3)

The public needs to know the facts about the opioid epidemic, how it was caused and propagated by the drug manufacturers and distributors, and the road to solving this crisis by the teams on the frontlines fighting the problem. Those on the frontline are not politicians, Plaintiff Steering Committees made up of powerful attorney networks, or influentially appointed Claims Administrators who will work away with large fees in their pockets. The solution must include the physicians, health care providers, the first responders, the non-profit organizations, and their legal representatives who have a personal investment in ending this problem and responding effectively to the societal needs this crisis has caused.

(4)

The legal strategy utilized in the opioid litigation should ensure that the lawyers are obligated to their clients. Future needs of opioid-addicted babies or abandoned children or recovering addicts aren’t all known now. The compensation these client groups need must address medical and associated treatments. After all, response to the crisis is basically a medical problem requiring physician training, research, and patient evaluation. Funding for present and the future needs must be secured so that that no one can divert these needed funds to another use.

(5)

In the end, the guiding principle is this: America’s opioid crisis is a medical and social issue, not just a legal one. See how this problem has impacted just one societal problem demonstrated in the chart below: