Nation's first opioid trial could set precedent for massive pharma payouts


A trial kicking off in Norman, Oklahoma, on Tuesday will provide an unprecedented examination of how the country spiraled into a devastating opioid epidemic — and could indicate to what degree drug companies accused of fueling the crisis will be held responsible in hundreds of other lawsuits still pending across the country.

Most of the litigation against opioid makers and distributors — involving states, cities, counties and tribes — is wrapped up in a single massive lawsuit overseen by a federal judge in Ohio. But the Oklahoma lawsuit against two manufacturers of prescription painkillers will be the first to reach trial and could establish a precedent for damages paid to communities ravaged by opioids.