The US Department of Justice has decided to step in and take action against the makers and distributors of opioid painkillers. But this may not be the best course of action. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Peter Mougey discuss this.


Mike Papantonio: DOJ, this is a great … we’ll talk about … DOJ finally comes out and say, “Hey, we want to get involved in the opiod crisis.” I mean, really? The U.S. Justice Department decided to step in and take action against the makers and distributors of opiod pain killers, but this is absurd because they helped create the problem. They were actually part of the problem. Give me your take. You’re helping lead the charge on the opiod crisis.

Peter Mougey: Well, we’ve been up in court in Cleveland in front of Judge Polster who was featured recently in the New York Times, a whole series on him, which was really well done. And at the end of the day, he’s trying to force disclosure of the information that only the Federal Government, the DEA, has. And the disclosure that they had, I’m not disclosing the information that they have, the data they have, is how many pills went where. Where are the problems? Where are the leaks in the system? Where are the opioids being diverted? When we asked him for the data to help identify all the wrongdoers and the parties that should be in front of the court, the DEA claimed business secrets, trade secrets, it’s commercially sensitive, we don’t want to produce it.

Mike Papantonio: By the way, that’s part of the Department of Justice.

Peter Mougey: Oh, absolutely.

Mike Papantonio: That’s not… let’s tie it up.

Peter Mougey: At the same time Jeff Sessions is filing, the DOJ is filing the statement of interest, Jeff Sessions, the DOJ is arguing in Federal Court not to release information that will help find a solution. So on one hand, when it comes to the press, national press releases, hey, we’re out there to help. But when it comes time to providing the tools to actually find the wrongdoers, find the problems in the systems, stop the debts, curb the … they don’t do anything.

Mike Papantonio: You know what really bugs me about this?

Peter Mougey: What’s that?

Mike Papantonio: The DOJ has done nothing. They’ve prosecuted nobody. They’ve done nothing to reverse this. They’ve brought no lawsuits [inaudible 00:01:48]. They fine them $600 million and then they let them get away. Nobody went to jail. And now, you know what they’re doing? They’re relying on us. They’re relying on real lawyers …

Peter Mougey: But they do what the Federal government always does. And I’m going to tweak what you said just a bit. Any of the big players, the huge pharmaceuticals, the McKessons, the distributors, the manufacturers, nothing gets done. No one goes to jail, just like you said. The little tiny players, the little local guys that it’s easy to run over …

Mike Papantonio: Doctors.

Peter Mougey: Yes. The doctors. And that’s what they’ll point to. Look at all these arrests. Look at all these investigations. But when it comes time to really holding somebody accountable, like one of the huge companies, [inaudible 00:02:21] from one of the CEOs, like a McKesson, they do absolutely nothing.

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.