Summary of The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes on the Opioid Industry

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The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes on the Opioid Industry summary


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It’s hard to believe that the same pharmaceutical companies that create life-saving drugs would market dangerous opioids to patients who don’t need them. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Esmé Deprez and Paul Barrett argue that drug companies lied to doctors and patients about the safety of opioids to make more money. Many patients who took opioids as directed became addicted. Anti-tobacco crusader Mike Moore is gathering legal teams from across the country to make sure the drug companies pay. getAbstract recommends this analysis to anyone who wants to know more about how the opioid crisis came to be.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Mike Moore went from fighting Big Tobacco to fighting the opioid industry,
  • How drug companies created the opioid epidemic and
  • What Moore hopes to achieve with lawsuits in several states.

About the Authors

Esmé E. Deprez is an investigative reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek. Paul Barrett is the deputy director at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and a former writer at Bloomberg Businessweek.



In 1994, then Mississippi attorney general Mike Moore sued tobacco companies for saying nicotine wasn’t addictive. The $246 billion settlement has funded anti-smoking programs ever since. In 2010, Moore’s nephew survived an opioid overdose. Now in private practice, Moore sees the opioid industry as the new corporate threat to public health. Moore is gathering legal teams from numerous US states to argue that drug companies created the opioid epidemic by downplaying the risks of painkillers including OxyContin, Percocet and Duragesic. Supported by many experts, he argues that opioids can be harmful even when patients use them as doctors advise. Such harm cost $78.5 billion in the United States in 2013 and caused more than 33,000 deaths in 2015. Moore wants to win high-enough damages to force the drug companies to stop, to fund a nationwide initiative to prevent and treat opioid addiction, and to make doctors prescribe painkillers differently.

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