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Via America’s Lawyer: Drug companies have set up a complex network designed to put a positive spin on their disgusting conduct and their disgusting image. Mike Papantonio and Trial Magazine Editor Farron Cousins discuss.


Mike Papantonio: Big Pharma’s greed is finally become a mainstream topic, so in order to avoid anyone actually doing something about it, drug companies have set up a complex network designed to put a positive spin on their disgusting conduct and their disgusting image. This is. as you know, I’m right in the middle of the opioid litigation. I’m taking depositions in it against McKesson, against the distributors. The story is deplorable. The depositions you walk out of it, it looks like a blood bath for the other side, because the documents are so bad, the conduct is so bad. And anybody sitting in those depositions, sometimes there’ll be 50 lawyers sitting in the deposition observing what’s going on, and they see how bad it really is, and they go back home and they say, “We got a problem.” So, how does the industry take care of the problem?

Farron Cousins: Well, this is a great story by Wendell Potter, a great friend of ours at Ring of Fire, but it talks about the fact that AmerisourceBergen, one of the people, one of the distributors of these opioids, they put together a foundation to help get people off opioids, and they funded it to almost one million dollars. They spent almost a million dollars on this foundation, and everywhere they’ve gone to work with police officers, to help get people off opioids, they get all this positive press. People say, “Look what this drug distributor is doing, such a good company,” but they’ve pulled in billions off opioids and they spent less than a million.

Mike Papantonio: Let me put it in perspective, okay? McKesson in revenue last year, did $193 billion, okay? Now, they’re one of the people that threw gasoline on the fire, they were simply a legalized drug cabal. That’s really all they are. Amerisource the same thing. They understood that 115 people will die today, some people say it’s 150, as high as 150. As we’re doing this show today, 150 people may die from opioid addiction. The interesting thing about it is these companies knew about it a decade ago, and so now they’re caught. So, now they have to call in all the low-hanging fruit, the politicians who they can give extra money to, to speak for them. The lobbyists are going around saying, “Look at all these wonderful things that we’ve done. We’ve spent $800,000 on this meaningless effort to accomplish anything. It’s nothing,” but what they’re really trying to affect is they’re trying to affect judges’ opinions and jury’s opinions.

We see it first-hand. When I go to trial with a big case, whether it’s a pharmaceutical case, environmental case, tried cases up on the eastern seaboard, when I was trying cases, environmental cases up there, the companies I was trying against were spending a gazillion dollars with these feel-good ads, “We are DuPont. I’ve been with DuPont forever, this is a wonderful company.” And we would see them spending more money than you can count, trying to really affect the decision of the jury and the judge.

Farron Cousins, thanks for joining me again. These stories just keep rolling. I mean some of this stuff you couldn’t possibly make up. Thanks for being here.

Farron Cousins: Thank you.

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.