"The pharmaceutical industry is being scapegoated for something where there's plenty of blame to go around," says Northeastern University's Leo Beletsky.
In nearly a dozen cases reviewed by Newsweek, drug firms that flooded the U.S. with deadly painkillers over the years have clauses in their settlements that absolve them from saying they did anything wrong.
"Of course states need to be compensated. But the concern is that very little money actually filters down to those who have been most deeply affected," Kate Nicholson, civil rights attorney and patient advocate, told Newsweek in an interview.
Investigators are closing in on Big Pharma, claiming that shady tactics fueled the opioid crisis.
Democracy Forward is suing for details about a former pharmaceutical lobbyist's role in drug regulation.