by James E. Tierney, former Maine Attorney General and lecturer in law at Harvard Law School
*This piece was originally posted on Buzzfeed
The unchecked flood of opioids into our country has caused unspeakable damage, and the companies that manufacture them will inevitably be held accountable. When that moment comes, it is vital that we avoid the mistakes made in our attempts to hold Big Tobacco accountable.
I helped coordinate the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, which ended with a giant settlement deal that would cost cigarette makers more than $200 billion and require major changes to the industry. But much of that money was wasted, and countless people have died as a result.
We can’t let that happen again, and now is the time to start talking about what a Big Tobacco–style national settlement with Big Opioid should look like — and to demand nothing less from our state and federal leaders.