A judge in Manhattan has blocked an effort by lawmakers to make drug manufacturers and distributors pay for the costs of cleaning up the opioid epidemic that they created. The judge said that these drug makers can’t be held financially liable because that would violate the commerce clause because it would NOT let drug companies charge more to out-of-state consumers in order to recover costs. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

In a rather bizarre ruling this week, a district judge in Manhattan actually struck down a law that was recently passed by lawmakers in the state of New York that would have made opioid manufacturers and distributors pay upwards of $600, million dollars to help the state cover the costs of battling the opioid epidemic. Great law, great idea, exactly what needs to happen, and even the judge said that like the reasoning and the rationale for this law was 100 percent spot on and accurate. Unfortunately, because you won’t let you wrote this into legislation, you’re not going to let drug companies and drug distributors pass on those costs to the consumers. That somehow violates the commerce clause. So I have to strike down the whole thing. I don’t understand that line of logic whatsoever. I mean it. It violates the commerce clause somehow because companies can’t screw over consumers to make them pay for the problems that pharmaceutical companies started. Somebody for the love of God explained to me how that makes any sense and how that could possibly violate the commerce clause. Companies do this kind of crap all the time. It’s externalizing the costs

and it’s disgusting. You know, they, they want us to pay for their messes. You know, whether it’s oil spills, whether it’s massive chemical contamination or whether it’s the opioid epidemic. They want the victims, the consumers, the people they lied to to cover the costs of it. That is what they argued in front of this judge and this judge said, you know what? You’re right. It’s really not fair that if they’re going to charge you $600 million, you can’t built $600 million out of consumers to make up for it. That’s just not fair to you. Is it? Now? I don’t know anything about this judge. Maybe she is a wonderful person and I don’t want to sit here and say that she is a horrible person, but this is a bad ruling. This is a very disgusting, bad and improper ruling that she issued this week. Opioid companies knew what they were doing. The distributors knew what they were doing. Their documents prove that without a doubt, so to say that it’s unfair to them or that it violates some dormant commerce clause that hasn’t been used in decades is absolutely insane. These companies caused this crisis. The state of New York was trying to get them to pay up for it and all these drug companies and distributors wanted to do was externalize those costs and pass them back onto the consumers. And the judge in this case happened to think that that was just a okay with her.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He also hosts the weekly DeSmogCAST and serves as co-host for Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.