Amicus brief: AHA asks court to remove physicians from centralized opioid litigation

IN RE: National Prescription Opiate Litigation

Download the full amicus brief below.

Amicus American Hospital Association (“AHA”) respectfully submits this amicus curiae brief in support of Defendants Mark E. Cieniawski, M.D. and Michael B. Bruehl, M.D.’s Motions to Partially Vacate Conditional Transfer Orders (CTOs-47, -50, & -51). 

AHA, its member hospitals, health systems, and other caregivers are on the front lines of combatting the abuse of opioid medications. Not only do AHA hospitals treat those who have been harmed by misuse of opioids, they also play a major role preventing opioid addiction and determining what doses are safe and reasonable when, in their medical judgment, their doctors must prescribe opioids to specific patients. These individualized medical decisions, however, have not been a focus of the ongoing MDL, which this Panel created to address the common national issues raised by the alleged conduct of “the manufactur[ers] and distributor[s]” of opioids. Transfer Order at 3, In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, 1:17-md-02804-DAP (JPML Dec. 12, 2017), ECF No. 1 (“Transfer Order”) (emphasis added). And the allegations concerning Drs. Cieniawski and Bruehl are wholly outside this MDL’s scope—the alleged “diversion of opiates … into illicit channels” and “improper marketing of such drugs.” Id. The Amended Complaints in the City of Bangor, City of Portland, and City of Lewiston actions contain no substantive allegation suggesting either Dr. Cieniawski or Dr. Bruehl participated in marketing, promoting, or diverting opioids; indeed, they barely mention either physician at all. In amicus’s understanding, these doctors are merely local Maine primary care physicians who were hospital employees and prescribed opioids only when they made an individualized clinical judgment that it was appropriate. The AHA respectfully submits that they are not proper defendants in this multi-district action, and so their motions to partially vacate Conditional Transfer Orders 47, 50, and 51 should be granted.

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