In September, M&S and co-counsel shook things up in the multi-district opioid litigation underway in the Northern District of Ohio, filing a motion demanding that the nation’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) — CVS Caremark, OptumRx, and Express Scripts (known as the “Big Three”) — take immediate steps to address the country’s opioid epidemic. M&S currently represents several Teamster health and welfare funds and the City of Springfield, Missouri, in the opioid litigation. When this litigation began in January 2018, Judge Dan Polster made clear he wanted to see meaningful action to abate the epidemic and he wanted it soon. With more than one hundred lives lost every day to opioid overdose, the nation needed immediate relief, even if it could still take years before the litigation reaches a final judgment on liability and damages are assessed. But months passed with no news of any agreements or action to mitigate the crisis.
M&S decided it wouldn’t wait any longer and teamed up with Joanne Cicala, representing Webb County, Texas, to break the impasse. Together they told the Court that PBMs are the gatekeepers to prescription drugs — they decide what drugs are covered by insurance plan and under what terms. That means they control access to both opioids and opioid overdose and addiction treatments.
Despite making bold public statements about their efforts to reduce opioid abuse and addiction, the PBM’s actions have fallen short of key standards for appropriate opioid prescribing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Thus, we asked the Court to order the PBMs to match their promises with action and introduce edits into their national formularies that would restrict inappropriate access to opioids and expand access to medications that prevent overdose and help treat addiction. These simple steps would go far in mitigating the current crisis.
M&S is currently are awaiting word on whether our requests will be granted.
Read more about how M&S teamed up with Teamsters to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio and West Virginia.
Cyrus Mehri penned a topical op-ed last month following a visit to Nepal about his personal journey to abstain from eating red meat, a move he argues has the ability to fight climate change. In the piece, Mr. Mehri -inspired by meeting his wife and learning about her culture — shares his transformation from an enthusiastic steak lover to more mindful eating habits.
Through it all, he explains the merits of eliminating grain-fed red meat from a diet — beef leaves an exponentially bigger carbon footprint — while discussing what leaders of non-violent movements might say about the acceleration of climate change.
“A major change in our collective diets and food production is now necessary to save the planet for our children and grandchildren.”
Mr. Mehri puts into context how collective actions have the ability to make a great impact, and a change in how we buy and consume food is no different.
“Individual and collective choices can help buy time for long overdue policy choices to take hold. If the number of people who refrain from beef doubled from one billion to two billion we could buy significant time in the uphill battle to curtail catastrophic climate change.”
Read the full piece here.
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