CTPF Board Passes Unanimous Resolution Supporting Opioid Lawsuit
CTPF Trustees support action against companies which created and continue to perpetuate the nation’s opioid crisis
During their meeting on Thursday, May 17, 2018, the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund (CTPF) Board of Trustees (Board) unanimously passed a resolution supporting a lawsuit brought by local governments and Health & Welfare Funds against the pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers who have helped to create and perpetuate the nation’s opioid crisis. The action also demonstrates the Board’s support and obligation to continue to protect CTPF’s members in administering and contracting for the health insurance program that CTPF offers to its retirees.
The opioid crisis in the United States continues to escalate, with opioids killing more than 42,000 people in the United States in 2016, more than any year on record. On October 27, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized the gravity of the crisis and declared a nationwide Public Health Emergency.i
Young adults are disproportionately impacted by addiction to prescription drugs, and in Illinois, educators, administrators, and school support personnel have been recognized as critical elements in the battle against addiction, and have been called upon to fight this epidemic in schools and communities.ii
“Educators, administrators, and school support personnel face the opioid epidemic every day, providing front-line intervention in schools and bearing witness to the devastation this epidemic has on children, families, and communities,” said Jay C. Rehak, President of the CTPF Board of Trustees. “This action demonstrates our Board’s recognition of the scope of this problem and offers our support for the local governments and Health and Welfare Funds working to secure greater accountability from the companies who contribute to and perpetuate this devastating crisis.”
The resolution passed by the Board highlights the role that drug manufacturers and their marketing efforts played in the creation of the epidemic. Driven by an economic interest in expanding markets and increasing profits, manufacturers in the 1990s reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.iii The National Institute of Health recognized the aggressive marketing of these drugs as a major cause and reason for a drastic increase in the number of prescriptions written and dispensed, resulting in widespread misuse, before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.iv
The multi-district litigation (National Prescription Opiate Litigation, No. 17-MD-3804) is taking place in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and consolidates lawsuits from across the country.
[i] Eric D. Hargan Acting Secretary Department of Health and Human Services, October 26, 2017, www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opioid%20PHE%20Declaration-no-sig.pdf
[ii] State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan a Statewide Strategic Action Plan Addressing Illinois Opioid Epidemic. dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Illinois-Opioid-Action-Plan-Sept-6-2017-FINAL.pdf
[iii] US Department of Health and Health and Human Services, What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic? www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic
[iv] Testimony to congress, 2016, Nora D. Volkow, America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse, Nat’l Inst. On Drug Abuse, (May 14, 2014) www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2018/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse