"Don't Bring Lawyers into the Fight Against The Opioid Epidemic"

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May 16, 2018

In an op-ed, the president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry said there are “many constructive actions state and local governments can take to address” the opioid crisis, but hiring “contingency-fee lawyers who stand to collect at least 25 percent of whatever they win in court isn’t one of them.”

Gene Barr pointed to the 1998 tobacco settlement as an example of how “following the lead of private lawyers” will not help end public health epidemics since that settlement “continues to shower these lawyers with billions of dollars in fees but has produced very little for injured smokers.” Citing statistics from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Barr said states will spend less than three percent of their 2018 settlement award on anti-smoking programs.

One potential solution, Barr said, is the creation of a drug formulary in the state’s workers’ compensation system to “control the distribution of potentially dangerous narcotic painkillers.” A bill to accomplish this passed the state legislature but was vetoed by the governor last month.