George Breen, Melissa Jampol Featured in “What Attys Need to Know About Trump’s Opioid Policies”

Law360

George B. Breen, a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices and Chair of the firm’s National Health Care and Life Sciences Practice Steering Committee, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, and Melissa L. Jampol, a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the firm’s New York office, were featured in an article in Law360, titled What Attys Need to Know About Trump’s Opioid Policies,” by Jeff Overley. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The Trump administration’s first six months have witnessed a flurry of activity targeting the nation’s tenacious opioid epidemic, highlighting legal risks for any business that handles narcotic painkillers.

The activity has spanned much of the executive branch, including the White House, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some of the moves have real promise, while others appear largely symbolic or even counterproductive, experts say. …

“You really see a multitude of government offices and agencies coming forward to try to address this,” Epstein Becker Green member George Breen said. “It does focus providers on the notion that there are multiple parts of the government that are going to be looking at this issue.” …

The potential legal risk is rapidly evolving, attorneys say, to focus not just on blatantly criminal sales of opioids, but also on compliance shortcomings that possibly fall into the realm of corporate health care fraud.

“I think that mindset of taking it out of the world of guns and drugs, and putting it into the world of white collar, is really sort of the news here, peeling back the layers of what is being announced,” Epstein Becker member Melissa Jampol said. …

Lawyers cautioned that the federal government’s recent efforts have sometimes been underwhelming, and that it has sometimes pursued counterproductive policies or failed to act altogether. …

“I think that this [the DOJ's Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit] is largely window dressing,” Jampol said. “There’s already a myriad of federal programs that are already targeted at the opioid epidemic, and simply designating 12 federal prosecutors to be on a new task force won’t solve this problem.” …

Setting aside tactical disagreements, the government has had success with past strategies relevant to the opioid crisis, including campaigns against tobacco use and fraudulent health care billing. The question is what it will take to tackle an opioid epidemic that has so far proved remarkably resilient.

“The government’s expectation is you spotlight an area, then it changes behavior, and that’s where it has seen success in the past,” Breen said. “Whether it sees it here or not, I think, is something [that remains] to be seen.”