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Via RT America: Deaths among opioid users continue to climb, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some states have brought legal action against pharmaceutical companies. RT America’s Mike Papantonio, host of America’s Lawyer, joins “News with Ed” to discuss Big Pharma’s legal liability.

Transcript of the above video:

Ed Schultz: Deaths among opioid users continue to climb according to the CDC, 33,000 fatalities in 2015, were the result of opioid use. Officials believe the numbers have been dramatically risen since then. Some states are fighting back at drug companies, for instance South Carolina has sued Purdue Pharma, that unfolded on Tuesday, accusing the Oxycontin maker of deceptive marketing practices. For more on this we’re joined tonight by Mike Papantonio, host of America’s Lawyer.

Mike, nice to have you with us. This, it could be a just a head rock for a lawsuit here, this could have sweeping changes depending on the outcome of this lawsuit. Purdue Pharma, what did they do wrong and where do you think their liability is?

Mike Papantonio: Oddly enough, the cases I’m focusing on state to state, we represent counties and cities in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida, Alabama. Here’s what’s wrong with what South Carolina’s doing. We’ve seen the history of Attorney Generals has not been good where it comes to dealing with the manufacturers. There’s two parts of the case, the manufacturer and the distributor. For example, McKesson takes the Purdue drug and they’re the ones that distribute it. The problem seems to be, if we’re looking at who’s most responsible, it seems to be the distributors. The distributors have become nothing more than pill pushers, they don’t look like pill pushers, because they’re dressed up in Armani suits, but when we follow these places all over the country Ed, and again, we’ve been hired, I think at this point, in 47 different counties and cities ranging from Kentucky to West Virginia, the story’s all the same.

The distributors understood that the numbers of drugs that they were selling far exceeded anything plausible, but it was the distributors who were on the street. For example, a pill mill would be on 5th Avenue, the distributor’s sales person would be on 3rd Avenue, they could drive by the pill mill every day, see people lined up around the pill mill, sometimes it’s 7 o’clock in the morning, wearing their pajamas, so they could buy the opioids. The thing we’re focusing on, and I think it’s going to be the thing that really changes the nature of this case, is it’s going to come down to the manufacturers at some point, our focus really, is the distributors.

The Attorney Generals have not done well where it comes to settling these cases with the manufacturers, they’ve taken way too little money for the conduct that we’re seeing from the manufacturers.

Ed Schultz: Mike, what responsibility do you think the medical community has in all of this?

Mike Papantonio: Well the medical community was … The manufacturers and the distributors both created this body of medical science that was created by biostitutes, they went out and hired doctors and scientists to actually tell doctors, they would have the sales people show up in the office and tell the doctors that, ‘Our opioid is special, it is non-addictive. It doesn’t have the same addictive qualities.’ So that myth was created by the industry, that myth unfortunately stayed in the air for a very long time, and really when it comes right down to it, these distributors understood that a county with 100,000 people, certainly should not be receiving four million, four million opioids over a period of eight months. It was the distributors that understood that, McKesson, Cardinal, these folks knew exactly what was going on, although I’m not excusing the manufacturers, we’re looking at them too, but right now our focus has been hugely on these distributors that were on the ground, had the notice first hand, they could see it.

Ed Schultz: Yep. Mike Papantonio, America’s Lawyer, host here on RT. Thanks Mike, appreciate it, we’ll follow the story.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.