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The Opioid Saga

Slowly comes the reckoning.

Illustration by Chris Gash

The ramifications of the opioid crisis are only beginning to be felt in the legal community, but their scope is already considerable. Thousands of federal and state lawsuits are currently making the rounds of courts nationwide. And while what may in the moment be focused predominantly on calling to account Big Pharma for the public harms of their deceptive practices, the trail of pain won’t end for years.

The law will also be called upon to deal with lingering effects of the opioid epidemic as substance abuse disorders continue to mount, social services and hospitals strain to contain the damage, drug-related offenses burden the criminal justice system, and legislators and policymakers confront their previous neglect and the need for reforms. 

This graphic snapshot offers a glimpse of the epidemic’s debris-strewn landscape awaiting cleanup.

As BC Law Professor Dean Hashimoto, co-author of a 2012 study on longer-term use of opioids, says, “It’s important to recognize that the problem is still evolving, and it still represents a very large challenge beyond commercial drug manufacturers.” 

To view the infographic, click here.