Historians push to create public archive of documents from massive opioid litigationHistorians in the News
tags: historians, archives, opioids, pharmaceutical
In settling lawsuits against them, companies often insist that all of the documents and depositions gathered as part of the cases be locked away or destroyed. To head that off — and to ensure a full accounting of the origins of the prescription opioid crisis — a group of historians is asking that any settlement in the massive opioid litigation require all collected documents be preserved and made public.
In a court brief Thursday, the experts called for “full and permanent access to the records” for scholars, policymakers, journalists, and the public, and for the defendants to cover the costs of creating an archive.
“The concealment of information about the abuse potential and distribution patterns of opioid painkillers allowed the epidemic of opioid abuse to take root in the first place and to grow to its current dimensions,” the brief says. “Since secrecy fueled the crisis, no just and genuinely remedial settlement can be reached unless it honors the public’s right to know and secures the conditions for its effective exercise into the future.”
The historians are modeling their entreaty after the 1998 tobacco settlement, which led to the public release of millions of pages of industry documents and included funding for the preservation of and access to the records. The records are maintained by the University of California, San Francisco’s Industry Documents Library and are available online.
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