Two decades into the opioid crisis, following some 400,000 U.S. deaths involving overdoses from prescription and illicit drugs, prospects for accountability are growing brighter. States, counties and cities have filed thousands of lawsuits that are beginning to be settled or go to trial.

As Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor Nicolas Paul Terry explains, companies that made, distributed and dispensed addictive prescription painkillers stand accused of flouting a DEA rule issued back in 1971. Known as the Controlled Substances Act, it requires the reporting of any “suspicious orders” to the authorities. Terry describes the missteps from regulators and industry that contributed to the crisis.

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Protests and lawsuits against opioid manufacturers are growing more common, but drug distributors are also facing scrutiny. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Shouldn’t there be a law against reckless opioid sales? Turns out, there is

Nicolas Paul Terry, IUPUI

Previously secret documents and data make it clear that many companies engaged in the distribution of prescription painkillers either skirted or ignored their legal obligations for years.

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