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What The Life Science Industry Should Know About The Opioid Crisis

Throughout the last couple of decades, use of prescription opioids has increased dramatically and exploded into a crisis of addiction and litigation affecting millions of Americans every year. Since 2016, over 289 million prescriptions for opioid drugs are written every year and over 1.7 million Americans suffered from chronic opioid abuse in 2017.

High risks associated with abuse and addiction have led to lawsuits against all actors along the supply chain, from manufacturers to physicians. State-level opioid-related lawsuits may surpass tobacco-related lawsuits to become the largest civil litigation settlement agreement in American history.

Insurance carriers have responded to these risks by severely restricting coverage for companies involved in the manufacture or distribution of these products. We’ve observed these changes globally, with all major carriers implementing similar restrictions. Insurance experts expect coverage to be limited to sole individual bodily injury coverage for adverse events related to opioid use, excluding addiction, abuse, diversion, failure to warn, criminal acts and multi-district litigation. Several carriers are adopting policies that categorically exclude coverage for opioids and avoiding this exposure altogether.

ABD has been working proactively to engage with carriers to obtain the most comprehensive coverage solutions for our clients with opioid products in their portfolio. Due to significant changes in premiums and coverage over the past couple of years, we believe that comprehensive, one-on-one attention is the best way to navigate the challenges associated with opioid products, including solutions that may involve self-insurance.

As opioid addiction continues to swell and as more settlements are reached between states, pharmaceutical companies, distributors, and physicians, the insurance industry’s policies regarding these drugs will continue to evolve. An experienced life science broker with extensive knowledge in this space is necessary to make sense of this changing insurance landscape.

For more information, contact ABD’s Life Science practice today at cristina.varner@theabdteam.com


Cristina Varner

About the author

Cristina Varner

National Life Science & Healthcare Practice Leader

Cristina Varner is the Life Science Practice Leader, leading a team of experienced account management professionals that service approximately 300 life science accounts. With 20+ years in the risk management field, Cristina is one of the industry’s foremost experts in complex Product Liability exposures and Clinical Trials insurance all over the world. She is the founder of the Life Science Practice at both her former employer and Newfront, deploying her vast experience with life science companies from start-up to grown up. Connect with Cristina on LinkedIn.


The information provided is of a general nature and an educational resource. It is not intended to provide advice or address the situation of any particular individual or entity. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. Newfront shall have no liability for the information provided. While care has been taken to produce this document, Newfront does not warrant, represent or guarantee the completeness, accuracy, adequacy, or fitness with respect to the information contained in this document. The information provided does not reflect new circumstances, or additional regulatory and legal changes. The issues addressed may have legal, financial, and health implications, and we recommend you speak to your legal, financial, and health advisors before acting on any of the information provided.

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