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AG Nessel Celebrates Passage of Drug Immunity Repeal and Opioid Bar Legislation
November 09, 2023
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel applauds the passage of Senate Bills (SB) 410 and 592 through the Michigan House last night. SB 410, sponsored by Senator Jeff Irwin, eliminates provisions in the Michigan Product Liability Act (Public Act 249 of 1995), which shielded pharmaceutical companies from certain lawsuits brought by consumers. SB 592, sponsored by Senator Rosemary Bayer, ensures Michigan receives the full amount of money allocated to Michigan governments through the national opioid settlements. Both bills will advance to Governor Gretchen Whitmer to be signed into law.
Drug Immunity Repeal
Michigan is currently the only state in the nation that protects drug manufacturers and sellers from liability stemming from the safety and efficacy of their products. This has factored into the ability of the Department of Attorney General to straightforwardly address the conduct of certain companies in the context of the opioid epidemic, price gouging for insulin, and recovery of taxpayer dollars paid out from the Medicaid program due to fraud.
“The Michigan Product Liability Act has been used for far too long to shield pharmaceutical companies from accepting responsibility when they knowingly defraud and harm the public,” said Nessel. “While my Department was ultimately successful in litigating claims against a host of opioid defendants, the existence of this unique provision greatly complicated the approach. I applaud the legislature for finally addressing this one-of-a-kind bill that placed protections for large corporations over the safety of Michigan residents.
“I also look forward to continued partnership with the Michigan legislature to strengthen the Michigan Consumer Protection Act to protect Michigan consumers from unscrupulous businesses.”
The Department’s testimony in support of SB 410 can be viewed here.
Opioid Bar Legislation
A legislative bar, preventing new lawsuits on already settled claims, is necessary to receive the full amount of money allocated to Michigan governments in several opioid settlements. The pending Teva, Allergan, CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens settlements incentivize participation, and each state must achieve certain participation benchmarks in order to receive the remainder of the payment.
Per the terms of each of the pending settlements, a legislative bar ensures that Michigan achieves the first benchmark across the board, ensuring full allocation of the settlement funds.
“I have spent the past two years visiting communities and organizations across Michigan to learn more about the work being done to prevent and treat Opioid Use Disorder,” Nessel said. “Time is not on our side when it comes to Michigan’s opioid epidemic and this legislation ensures that Michigan governments receive every available settlement dollar so that Michigan can continue the important work of addressing this crisis.”
Since taking office in 2019, Attorney General Nessel has focused diligently on combatting the opioid epidemic and holding accountable those responsible for creating and fueling the crisis, resulting in over $1.6 billion dollars through settlements with Jansen, McKinsey & Co., and the Distributor settlement, which includes the nation's three major pharmaceutical distributors - Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen - and Johnson & Johnson. The money is distributed to the state and local units of governments for Opioid-use disorder treatment and remediation.