In less than a week, a landmark battle over who bears responsibility for the U.S. opioid crisis will begin in federal court.
The case involves thousands of plaintiffs at virtually every level of government and defendants from every link in the chain of opioid drug production — from major multinational corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and CVS, right down to individual doctors. And on Oct. 21, the first trial is set to kick off before a judge in the Northern District of Ohio.
And with the costs of the crisis estimated at tens of billions of dollars and with more than 200,000 overdose deaths since the late 1990s, the stakes are immense — even for people who have never heard of this case. What happens with it will largely determine how much money cities and counties nationwide will have to fight the devastating effects of opioid abuse and when they'll get it.