This is how our legal system wins: Tsunami of spurious lawsuits filed to cause a organization to file bankruptcy

American Pain Society Goes Belly Up

Opioid lawsuit costs prompt membership to approve bankruptcy filing

Saying it is beleaguered by legal debt fighting lawsuits alleging that its policies contributed to the nation’s opioid crisis, the American Pain Society has voted to cease operations and on Friday, filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7.

Numerous legal filings have accused the organization, along with other companies and associations, of acting as “front groups” for opioid drugmakers because many of them regularly contributed significant financial support to professional groups such as the APS.

In a statement emailed Friday afternoon, the 42-year-old organization said it had been “named a defendant in numerous spurious lawsuits related to opioids prescribing and abuse. The organization’s financial health has deteriorated as a result of the litigation” that constituted “a perfect storm” for the organization’s demise.

The statement added that the organization’s financial health had deteriorated as a result of litigation costs, but that declines in membership, sponsorship revenue, and meeting attendance also contributed to the decision.

“Our resources are being diverted to paying staff to comply with subpoenas and other requests for information and for payment of legal fees instead of funding research grants, sponsoring pain education programs, and public policy advocacy,” APS President William Maixner, DDS, PhD, said.

In late May, the APS board of directors had called for a membership vote to support bankruptcy action, but said it was doing so “with heavy hearts.” Results were supposed to have been announced the following week, but requests for a determination were not forthcoming. A decision required at least 10% of its 1,173 eligible members to vote; the APS statement posted Friday on its website said 93% voted to approve the bankruptcy filing.

APS spokesman Chuck Weber said on Friday the decision was made with only one round of voting, but he said he did not know the reason why the organization delayed announcing the ballot’s result.

The press release quoted several members lamenting the end of the APS.

Roger Fillingim, PhD, an APS past president and professor of psychology, University of Florida School of Dentistry, said the “APS has been advocating for increased investment in research for many years, and it is particularly ironic that APS’s voice will go silent at this critical time in our history, when increased investment in pain research has finally become a reality in an effort to combat the opioid crisis.”

APS President-elect Gary Walco, PhD, also noted the irony that a “professional organization best poised to provide the spectrum of science to improve the prevention and treatment of pain and related substance abuse is defunct.”

Walco, director of pain medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, added that “Now, more than ever, our nation needs the collective efforts of leading scientists and clinicians who hold patients’ well-being at the highest premium. The principal focus on punishing those in industry that may have contributed to the problem is shortsighted and far from sufficient.”

The Chicago-based organization said it filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

It is unclear what will happen to its monthly Journal of Pain, although Weber said last month that the journal, as well as numerous research grants, a young investors fund and the group’s annual scientific meeting, would disappear or be taken over by other organizations.

In brief remarks Friday afternoon, Weber said he expected that all of the organization’s endeavors and operations “will be gone,” and that there is no sign that any other organizations are willing to pick up any of its functions.

“The next steps are in the hands of the trustee,” he said. The APS statement also promised more information for members “in the next week or so.”


4 Responses

  1. That’s really sad ran a business into the ground with frivolous lawsuits. A company that tried to help people to live their best life gone under. This country sucks!

  2. This is a nightmare

  3. The J&J Research Doc answered well to the prosecution Attorneys today, …helping them with their math. But I don’t comment there anymore because although I say there are fifty-million of us, only I comment. That just makes us look like drug seeking losers.

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