In a statement released on Tuesday, New York attorney general, Letitia James, announced the court’s decision to postpone a trial against pharmaceutical companies regarding the opioid crisis, ‘out of an abundance of caution’, due to the ongoing risk posed by the spread of coronavirus.
According to James, the trial, which was set for March 20, “will have the eyes of the nation on it,” with individuals from around the country expected to attend.
This drove the court’s decision to delay the trial until the ongoing risk of coronavirus subsides to ensure the safety of every individual in attendance.
The attorney general added, however, that the trial will not be delayed “a single minute longer than necessary,” and that once the threat of coronavirus dies down, “the deadly scheme perpetrated by these companies will be presented in open court and laid bare before the American people.”
A number of manufacturers involved in the marketing of opioid-based painkillers are fielding lawsuits amidst the opioid crisis in North America.
According to the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts, an estimated 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdose and approximately two million people are currently experiencing opioid use disorder.
A schedule for the postponed trial will be set during a conference on April 14, 2020.
Defendants in the initial lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson & Johnson), Mallinckrodt, Endo, Teva, and Allergan, as well as the distributors McKesson, Cardinal, AmerisourceBergen, and Rochester.
In total, more than 3,000 lawsuits, mostly coming from states and local governments, are pending against drug manufacturers and distributors over the opioid crisis.
Earlier this month, Mallinckrodt filed for bankruptcy as part of its efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement against all pending lawsuits, following similar actions taken by Purdue Pharma in 2019.
On its side, J&J paid to reach settlements with the state of Oklahoma, exiting a federal trial, whilst the pharmaceutical industry as a whole has seen its reputation sink to the lowest levels ever recorded, with the opioid epidemic playing a role in this.