This conference will consist of two parts. The morning session is by invitation only. The afternoon session, comprised of three panels and keynote speakers, is open to the public. We welcome your registration for the afternoon portion of the event by RSVP - see below.
The Opioid Addiction Crisis has caused approximately 633,000 deaths since 1999, more than ten times the total loss of U.S. life from the Vietnam War. On March 16, The Center for Ethics and Rule of Law (CERL) will host a public conversation designed to identify criminal, civil and regulatory solutions to address this crisis and to prevent a reoccurrence of this kind of public health emergency. Presenters draw from the ranks of health care professionals, lawyers, legislators, psychologists, and scholars from a variety of disciplines to discuss recent developments in the opioid epidemic as well as proposals for legal action and policy reform. What is the liability of pharmaceutical companies in relation to advice they gave to doctors that pain was being “undertreated”? Are civil suits that are currently being filed against pharmaceutical companies on behalf of a number of American cities likely to succeed? Are federal agencies, particularly the FDA, the Veterans Administration (VA) and possibly the CDC responsible for failing to protect veterans and other vulnerable consumers from the perils of addiction? What regulatory reforms need to be adopted to ensure this never occurs again?
Prescribing opioids for physical pain to vulnerable populations suffering from a high degree of psychological distress has been a recipe for addiction. Unfortunately, the misleading marketing practices of some drug companies has contributed greatly to this problem. Despite recognition from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that we are lacking critical evidence about the safety and effectiveness of treating pain with opioids, the rate of opioid prescription for veterans as well as for the general population has increased exponentially over the past decade.
Many have begun to question the ethical and legal ramifications of persistent opioid prescription within the last few years. How are the current laws and regulations addressing the crisis? Are they adequate, or do we need additional policies and legal solutions to help curb the widespread abuse? What are the implications of the “War on Drugs” on the opioid epidemic? State and local law enforcement have been in the vanguard of addressing this crisis, but many feel that the efforts of responsible agencies in the federal government lags behind. Are state and local efforts being adequately supported by the federal government? What kind of regulation is needed at both levels of government at this late stage in the crisis? What measures should be taken to avoid a public health crisis of this dimension in the future?
The Center for Ethics and Rule of Law (CERL) will host this high-level, one-day event to focus on possibilities for civil, criminal, and regulatory solutions to stem the morbidities and death from the crisis. We will draw from the ranks of health care professionals, lawyers, legislators, psychologists, and scholars from a variety of disciplines to discuss recent developments as well as the implications for legal and policy reform. Participants will address questions that affect each of their professional communities in different, but interrelated ways. What is the liability of pharmaceutical companies in relation to doctors? Are federal agencies, particularly the FDA, the Veterans Administration (VA) and possibly the CDC responsible for failing to protect veterans and other vulnerable consumers from the perils of addiction?
This conference is timely, since both the cities of Philadelphia and New York have recently filed suits against various pharmaceutical companies for their role in the epidemic. But such civil litigation suits are only one possible solution. There is also attention currently on both the problems of opioid addiction and the mental health crisis in the veteran community. In Pennsylvania it has become a top priority of Governor Tom Wolf’s Administration.
Following the conference, CERL will produce one or more briefing papers to address legal and regulatory solutions to the crisis along a number of domains – criminal prosecutions, civil suits and increased regulatory oversight and management.
This program has been approved for 4.0 ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $160.00 ($80.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys) cash or check made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.
This event is co-sponsored by the Sheller Family Foundation, the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute, and Captain Robert G. Fuller., Jr, Esq., JAGC, USNR (Ret)