Opioids in the pandemic
Hi I'M DEBORAH MAC and welcome to access recap presented by facebook today's Tuesday August eighteenth. The S. and P. Five hundred is up to a new record high. The of Bitcoin is down and we're focused on efforts to hold companies accountable for the OPIOID. Epidemic. Prior to the pandemic America's top public health crisis was laid over use and abuse and opioids haven't gone away just because the corona virus arrived. In fact, the situation may have gotten even worse. Two main reasons I people had been going to hospitals and regular medical providers, less addiction treatment to all out of coverted fear. So many have used opioids to deal with pain that would otherwise be treated differently. To some people are simply in greater emotional and economic pain and have turned to opioids to self medicate the hard numbers on this. Well, they come on a lag, but the Washington Post recently reported on a suspected forty-two percent increase in national overdoses in May and said that some jurisdictions like Milwaukee County dispatch calls for overdoses increase more than fifty percent. While all of this goes on makers of prescription opioids are gearing up to defend themselves against thousands of lawsuits brought by states, municipalities, and tribes. According to the the plaintiffs of these cases estimate that the opioid epidemic has cost them six, hundred, thirty, billion dollars since two thousand and seven, and that the cost could nearly triple over the next twenty years. So in fifteen seconds will begin with the AP's Geoff Mulvihill to understand the state of that litigation and what really comes next but first this. At facebook, we've taken critical steps to prepare for the US. We more than tripled or safety and security teams implemented five-step. Launched a new voting information center learn more at FBI DOT com slash about slash elections. That's F.. B. Dot. COM SLASH ABOUT WHY selection? We're joined now by the AP's Jeff. Mova Hill. So Jeff, a lot of us were paying a lot of attention to these lawsuits and then the pandemic it and our attention got diverted. Can you give us the short story of what's been going on over the past five months not nearly as much as been going on as we expected it to. Pre pandemic the trials were prone cold looked like twenty twenty was going to be the year of many opioid trials and door settlements. They're all put on hold some are scheduled, happen starting next month and into the fall. But the trials really function deadlines also for settlements. So while there may be settlement talks going on, we haven't seen any results yet deals. Is Your expectation that we're going to see a mix of trials settlements or that it's going to kind of tilt more toward trials or more towards settlements. We'll have to see how that plays out but so far there have been several settlements and just one trial of one of the government brought cases that was in Oklahoma last year. With Johnson and Johnson, you reported yesterday that the states of tallied up about six hundred, thirty billion dollars in costs associated with the opioid epidemic. That's a big number. Were you surprised by that one? I wasn't particularly surprised by it because there are lots of costs associated with this epidemic states talking about Medicaid costs costs to welfare and criminal justice systems, and they certainly have a reason to make sure the numbers bigger not. Smaller when they're trying to tabulate these costs without I'm curious, is it a number that you think that some of the defendants in this case or even others that have been kind of generally evolved opioids would dispute or do you think it's the kind of a call it? A valid number that everyone can agree that this is the proximity, the cost I have not heard from the defendants on that point yet. So I think. That remains an open question is fairly clear that settlements or judgements are highly unlikely hit that amount. That's an astronomical number. These companies don't probably have that much money perdue for instance, which is the company made Oxycontin is the big guy settlement deal they have on the table would involve at least three billion dollars in cash and be worth perhaps ten billion or more over time that is obviously a tiny portion of the. Damages states said right done to them the Wall Street Journal reported today that the states are seeking just over twenty six, billion dollars, which is a lot less than six, hundred, thirty billion is that kind of just the ceiling on how much money for Bertram they think is there or is that more legal strategy of that's the most they think they could get the court processes again, I'm not completely clear on that because the. Toll? Transparency when you're talking about negotiations and negotiating tactics by it does seem like one of the big questions is how much can these defendants pay and still remain in business? Obviously, there's lots of different states and municipalities and tribes that are suing. So there's lots of plaintiffs in this you get the sense of the stages that are driving this. Do they care if these companies can? Or can't stand business it seems like there's not unanimity on that. It also depends on the company. So if you have a company like purdue where it's basically been an opioid company, I, think some states vindicated they aren't that concerned where others are concerned in the proposed settlement is structured so that the value of the company would become part of the deal. So there would be some. Incentive to keep it alive purdue obviously late last year, two, thousand and nineteen filed for bankruptcy protection. Does that have an impacted all in the settlement talks with them? Because obviously when somebody's filed for bankruptcy, even liabilities are now subject to a bankruptcy court. Sure. They filed for bankruptcy as a means to reach a settlement. So they got buy in from about half of the state attorneys. General Ahmet deal and it's a structured bankruptcy plan. They really have virtually no liabilities other than these thousands of lawsuits they're facing speaking of the thousands of officers. Jeff you're right. There's lots of them some coming up. We'll be in the future. Are there you know one or two that you're particularly interested in and either because you think they'll be bellwethers or just because there's something unique about. I think the next one is always the most interesting one. So a few on the calendar, there are federal trials currently scheduled for September November I believe in West Virginia and in Cleveland we're also seeing some hearings that are prelude to a state court trial in New York state side exactly clear when that trial would happen however final question for you is about the epidemic itself has the pandemic itself worsened the opioid crisis. For example, we see overdoses are. Way Up this year right we do see the overdoses have risen this year. The most solid numbers we have are on the counts still pre pandemic. So we do have some state-by-state counts showing that the numbers are up we have lots of anecdotes indicating that's the case there will be a number of good explanations for that before. So getting drugs that it's harder to get into treatment during NBA pandemic numbers rising in twenty, thousand nine compared with the previous. Couple of years where they've been relatively flat for the first time I'm wondering though. So if that's the case, if the numbers were rising two, thousand nineteen, if they were rising in two, thousand, twenty, pre pandemic and anecdotes evidence suggested gone up even more during the pandemic. Does that suggest that the plaintiffs in this are basically just sticking fingers in the dam right? Because in theory you're suing in part to get money, but you're also suing in part to. Slow down the flow of opioids into down overdoses or overuse at least I. Think the fence would explain almost everybody does their been different waves of the opioid epidemic and what's currently killing people is largely illicit fanton. All they might argue whether it's a straight line between their products, prescription products, and the illegal drugs that are by-in-large killing people today, but it's not their products most deadly thing at the moment. Thank you so much for joining. US. Thank you. At facebook, we continue to take steps to better secure our platforms. What's next we support updated Internet regulations the set new standards for Data Portability, privacy and elections learn more about that F.. B. Dot com slash regulation that's about dot F. B. dot com slash regulation. Welcome back. We're watching today is SPACEX. Which disclosed in regulatory filing that it's raised nearly two billion dollars in new private funding with Bloomberg reporting evaluation of around forty, four, billion dollars. I asked axios space reporter. Mariam Kramer about why spacex still keeps raising so much money and what the company's most significant accomplishment has been so far in two thousand twenty. Building a city on Mars is not cheap. would be one part of it I. Think the more immediate concern is they have a lot of iron in the fire right now for example, they are trying to build out their starling satellite network, which will be broadband to the earth, and then they're also building starship, which is the interplanetary vehicle that they want to send people to Mars and deeper space places at this point plus your average rocket launches earned are not super cheap faces a super capital intensive industry like you need a lot of money up front in order to get anything to pay off later. They successfully launched people and brought them back to Earth Reynoza and it was an incredibly smooth mission with perhaps one of the most iconic space quotes I've ever heard after landing, which was thank you for flying spacex. Today we're also continuing to watch the US Postal Service which we discussed in yesterday's show with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. The latest is postmaster general. Louis Joy saying that USPS will not make any more operational changes before the November election. Expect them to be grilled pretty hard on pledge when testifying Monday in front of Maloney's House oversight committee particularly on the part where he doesn't promise to rollback changes that have already been made. And finally today we're watching Walmart, which reported very strong second-quarter sales but warned that much of that growth came from stimulus benefits that have since expired. Without another stimulus package that fabled phase for that remains stuck in endless political limbo the Q. Three number for Walmart may look very, very different. And we're done big thanks for listening into my producers Tim Chauffeur's name Shaven have a great national Fajitas Day and we'll be back tomorrow with another axios recap.