Class Action Lawsuit Settlements Reached Record Amounts in 2022: Report
Settlements involving class action actions lawsuits resulted in agreements to pay more than $63 billion in 2022, according to the findings of a new report, which suggests that the payments were driven by recent efforts by pharmaceutical companies to resolve claims stemming from the marketing of opioid medications, which has been blamed for causing the opioid addiction crisis in the U.S.
The Duane Morris Class Action Review was released on January 4, indicating that the amount represents a new record for class action settlements in product liability claims, spread out over 635 class action decisions and settlements last year.
Researchers examined claims resolved in state and federal courts nationwide, involving plaintiff class actions and government enforcement actions. It is the 20th year the report has been issued.
Opioid Crisis Settlements Led the Way
Of the more than $63 billion in judgments and class action settlements, 15 of the cases resulted in payments of $1 billion or more. The largest of those involved a $7.4 billion settlement by McKesson, a drug and medical supply distribution company, which agreed to resolve lawsuits filed against it by communities and states nationwide.
The next two highest settlements, each about $6 billion, involved AmerisourceBERGEN and Cardinal Health, both of resulted from the companies’ roles in the opioid crisis cases.
The largest non-opioid related case was a Cardona student debt settlement, which resulted in an agreement to pay about $6 billion.
The report also found that product liability and mass torts alone led to $50 billion in settlements, increasing 267% over 2021. Consumer fraud cases raked in nearly $8.6 billion overall, a 640% increase, and antitrust cases resulted in $3.8 billion in settlements, which is an increase of 119% over 2021’s numbers.
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Opioid Overuse and Addiction Problems
Recent research has indicated opioids should no longer be used to treat back pain, spurring new guidelines that only recommend the use of opioids for cancer pain. However, according to a study involving 2019 data, nearly one-quarter of US adults with chronic pain admitted to using opioids in the prior three months.
Other research indicates long-term opioid prescriptions and high-doses increase the risk of abuse and adverse events, including overdoses. Furthermore, many children are given high risk opioid prescriptions that can lead to misuse and abuse later.
In recent years, the opioid epidemic has worsened, ultimately accounting for nearly 70% of all overdose deaths, according to a 2018 study.
The crisis has largely been spurred by the use of synthetic opioids, like fentanyl which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl deaths increased more than 1,000% in recent years.
RobertJanuary 18, 2023 at 9:53 pm
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