Opioids Collections

National Prescription Opiate Litigation Documents

Date Range: 1988 – 2019

Overview and Background

Multidistrict Litigation 2804

The records in this collection come from the National Prescription Opiate Litigation (Case No. 17-md-2804, aka MDL 2804), and consist of court motions and other filings with attached exhibits, depositions, expert witness reports and internal company documents.

In early 2017, numerous counties, cities, towns and Native American tribes across the US filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors for harms caused by the abuse and misuse of these drugs. In December 2017, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered the consolidation of the nearly 200 pending opioid-related cases into multidistrict litigation in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio under Judge Dan Polster (* more information below).

The defendants in this MDL currently include opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies. The defendant manufacturers originally consisted of various corporate entities, including Actavis, Allergan, Cephalon, Endo, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Teva and Watson. Among the defendant distributors are the “Big Three”—AmerisourceBergen, McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health—which are alleged to have collectively distributed more than 80% of the opioids at issue. Later in the litigation, counties asserted claims against several pharmacy chains as “distributors” of pharmaceuticals to their own retail pharmacies. These companies include CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and Walmart.

The common allegations in all cases are that the manufacturers of prescription opioid medications overstated the benefits and downplayed the risks of the use of their opioids and aggressively marketed these drugs to physicians; and distributors failed to monitor, investigate and report suspicious orders of prescription opiates. The plaintiffs also allege that the defendants had an obligation under the Controlled Substances Act, and similar state laws, to prevent diversion of opioids.

Special thanks to the UCSF Library Access Services staff, who provided valuable assistance in processing this collection.

Opioid Industry Documents Archive team members have not performed or commissioned any redactions on these documents.

Related Resources

* Multidistrict litigation (MDL) allows centralized oversight of a grouping of related cases by a single judge to consolidate pre-trial discovery, creating efficiency and consistency across all cases. To date, more than 3,000 cases have been added to this MDL.