September 18, 2020

Former Mississippi AG Mike Moore is taking on opioid manufacturers 20 years after beating Big Tobacco

Mike Moore

Mike Moore, Mississippi’s former attorney general who led the successful charge against Big Tobacco in the 1990s, is taking on pharmaceutical companies and their role in the country’s severe opioid epidemic.

Moore is leading a coalition of states, cities and counties suing Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies, alleging they’ve misled the public in marketing opioid painkillers.

In an interview with NPR Wednesday, Moore talked about the process of convincing other states to take legal action against opioid manufacturers and trying to find solutions to a growing deadly problem.

“When you have the toll of anywhere from 35 to 50,000 people died in the last few years every year, everybody’s going to know somebody that died,” Moore said.  “… it’s not some guy in the back hallways or back roads. It’s your neighbor, you know? It’s a 19-year-old son. It’s a 35-year-old parent of three children. It’s a very, very bad epidemic.”

Moore said hesitation is among the greatest challenges he’s faced in getting other states to jump onboard.

“You know, what I hear sometimes is, well, these are tough cases. Mike, we’re going to wait and see what happens,” he said. “But unfortunately for me and for many others on our team, this is not something you can wait and see what happens. There are 150 people who will die a day from an overdose from opioids. I’m trying to focus the country’s attention on this problem and do something about it soon.

“There are 150 people who will die a day from an overdose from opioids. I’m trying to focus the country’s attention on this problem and do something about it soon.”

When asked about criticism against filing suit, particularly that it’s about lawyers looking for a large settlement, Moore told “Around the Nation” host Mary Louise Kelly he’d be “satisfied not making a single penny.”

MOORE: … If we could sit down at the table right now and figure out a solution to this problem and stop people from overdosing, stop people from dying, Then I would be absolutely as happy as I could ever be.

KELLY: You would have your fees or put all the – any money that was recovered toward treatment programs?

MOORE: I can tell you right now unequivocally if people will sit down tomorrow in a room and help solve this problem, I will absolutely do that.

Listen to the entire interview above or read the full transcript.