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United States District Court Northern Division of Ohio Eastern Division

My client, The Blackfeet Tribe, is one of the two bellwether Native American Tribes in the opioid litigation. These two tribes will serve as the template for all the tribes that come after that.



The 'forgotten people' of the opioid epidemic

To some, it was imperative the tribes join the litigation — and early.

Tom Rodgers, a voting rights advocate and lobbyist who blew the whistle on the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, is working to ensure Native Americans have a seat at the negotiating table. He “could not have history repeat itself,” Rodgers wrote in an email, referencing what he refers to as tribes’ exclusion from the major tobacco settlements of the 1990s.


THE HILL. By Rachel Roubein - 05/10/18

NIH abruptly changes course on industry opioids partnership after ethics flags raised


WASHINGTON - It's been touted by health officials for almost a year: a planned opioids research partnership worth roughly $400 million. Ideally, the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry would each pick up half the tab, NIH Director Francis Collins has said, to fund research aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic.

Collins reiterated last month: Dozens of drug companies were on the verge of teaming up with the agency, which researchers hope will lead to the discovery of new medicines to treat addiction or serve as alternatives to opioids.

But in an abrupt shift, the agency announced late last week that it won't accept funds from drug makers after all. Citing recommendations issued earlier this month by an NIH advisory panel, Collins said the agency will exclusively use taxpayer money to fund a comprehensive research initiative on pain and substance use disorder treatment.


STATNEWS by Lev Facher - April 19, 2018

The Insanity of Taxpayer-Funded Addiction

The pharmaceutical industry was listed as one of the "Contributors to the Current Crisis" in the final report of President Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The report cites decades of aggressive marketing and industry-sponsored physician "conferences" aimed at expanding opioid use by minimizing the dangers of addiction. Lawsuits by state attorneys general, counties and local jurisdictions allege that the industry fostered the epidemic by overpromoting its products, while raking in billions as Americans became addicted and overdosed. "To this day," the commission says, "the opioid pharmaceutical industry influences the nation's response to the crisis."

It sure does. In its response to an epidemic that now kills 50,000 Americans a year, the Trump administration wants to spend tens of millions of dollars in part to help the industry responsible sell ostensibly nonaddictive pain medications and "abuse deterrent" opioids that are as addictive as the original opioids.


The New York Times by THE EDITORIAL BOARD - NOV. 10, 2017

Former executive charged with conspiring to illegally distribute fentanyl

The founder of an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company has been charged with spearheading a "nationwide conspiracy" to illegally distribute fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller.

John N. Kapoor, 74, was charged with numerous felonies, including RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) conspiracy and wire fraud. Prosecutors allege Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, colluded with doctors and pharmacies to prescribe fentanyl that was not medically necessary and defraud insurance companies for payment.

"In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit," said William Weinreb, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

Insys did not respond to a request for comment.


The Washington Post by Katie Zezima - Thursday, October 26, 2017

Founder and Owner of Pharmaceutical Company Insys Arrested and Charged with Racketeering

Defendant and other executives allegedly bribed doctors and pharmacists to prescribe fentanyl spray meant for breakthrough cancer pain

BOSTON - The founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., was arrested today and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain.

John N. Kapoor, 74, of Phoenix, Ariz., a current member of the Board of Directors of Insys, was arrested this morning in Arizona and charged with RICO conspiracy, as well as other felonies, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law. Kapoor, the former Executive Chairman of the Board and CEO of Insys, will appear in federal court in Phoenix today. He will appear in U.S. District Court in Boston at a later date.


US Department of Justice - Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mourning a journalist in Mexico who said 'no to silence'

It happened in broad daylight. On Monday, journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was driving near his office in Culiacán, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa - the land of the Sinaloa Cartel and its former kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera.

Around noon, assailants forced Valdez from his red Toyota Corolla and shot him a dozen times, according to Zeta, the Tijuana-based newsweekly. Valdez was left face down in the street, his signature Panama hat near his head.

He had also just filed his final article, about a protest in Culiacán against the deadly attacks teachers face by traveling and working in some of Sinaloa's most dangerous areas. At least six teachers have been killed in the state so far this year.


PRI's The World: By Monica Campbell - May 17, 2017

The drug industry's triumph over the DEA

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation's streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation's major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes." The DEA had opposed the effort for years.


The Washington Post: By Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein - October 15, 2017

Big Pharma is Killing Native Americans with Opioids, Tribes are Fighting Back

Appearing on Ring of Fire Radio, Tom Rodgers, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and activist and advocate for Native Americans and tribal issues, says that the problem is compounded by a lack of access to affordable health care:

"Medicaid is a huge poverty eliminator. With the proposed reduction in Medicaid across the country, and therefore the collateral impact on the ability to have drug prevention centers, best practices, research, it's going to have a cascading effect. At the time when we need, our society and Indian country needs more than ever best practices, drug abuse centers, any way to alleviate poverty and provide an environment of hope, we are doing the direct opposite of what should be done. We're cutting back on Medicaid, which services the poor."


The Ring of Fire: By Josh Gay - June 23, 2017

The Family That Built an Empire of Pain


The New Yorker: October 30, 2017

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