Cok Kinzler: What the Opioid Lawsuits May Mean for Medication Product Liability in Montana - Cok Kinzler

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December 28,2021

What the Opioid Lawsuits May Mean for Medication Product Liability in Montana

With Hulu documentaries and national headlines pointing out the destruction and loss of life caused by the man-made opioid epidemic, it’s a topic that’s been on everyone’s mind. This problem is so widespread that there’s a good chance this tragedy has affected you or someone in your life.

Prescription medications issues are the cause of many product liability cases, particularly when the medication doesn’t work as intended or causes side effects that are not clearly stated by the manufacturer. The likelihood of addiction is one of those side effects that should be presented and closely monitored in patients, which is why opioid manufacturers and sales reps have come under close eye for downplaying addictive qualities. Find out more with a breakdown of the ongoing opioid lawsuits, and what that could mean for you in Montana.

What’s going on with opioid lawsuits right now?

Four major companies have faced huge lawsuits, with litigation at one point happening in all 50 states. The key players in this battle are four pharmaceutical companies – Johnson & Johnson, along with the drug distributors Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson – as well as state attorneys general.

And the reasons for these cases are heartbreaking: nearly 70% of all overdose deaths in the United States in 2018 resulted from opioids. The death toll has been rising for years, even as these companies continue to sell to a shrinking market.

Where does Montana fit in?

In July of 2021, the Montana Department of Justice announced that the state would receive $1.9 million of a multi-state settlement with McKinsey & Company—a management consultant to some of the major opioid companies—because of its role in the drug epidemic. This consulting firm had given marketing advice to these companies, potentially leading to great loss of life and increase in addiction.

In Montana, about half of all drug overdoses result from opioids – a total of 64 in 2018. In the same year, Montana medical providers wrote 54 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people. The lawsuits—and their payouts—reflect the devastating impact that these drugs have had in the state. No family should have to lose a member to overdose, or fight to help someone they love recover from addiction.

What does this mean for future drug cases in Montana?

At the heart of the opioid epidemic lie drug companies out for financial gain. We’ve seen accusations of overprescription and companies deliberately marketing highly addictive drugs as non-addictive. McKinsey also advised drug companies on how to get around pharmacy restrictions for higher-dosage prescriptions, according to the Montana Department of Justice.

These cases set the precedent with patients, doctors and drug companies that the legal system won’t tolerate this type of pushing drugs for profit, at the expense of patient health and life. It opens the door for future product liability cases involving similar issues of overprescription and failure to warn about side effects like addiction.

When you or someone you love faces a struggle with prescription drugs, the responsibility may lie well outside your household. Drug companies can and should be held liable in product cases, and this recent litigation has shown that courts and consumers have the power to keep them in check.


If you or someone close to you has struggled with prescription drug addiction – opioid or otherwise – you might be able to seek justice directly from the drug company if you weren’t properly warned about its addictive qualities. Reach out to Cok Kinzler for a free legal consultation, and share your story. Our product liability attorneys can help you build your case to seek compensation for addiction recovery services and more.