The growing public health crisis of the opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 450,000 Americans since 1999. Amid claims that the pharmaceutical industry used misleading tactics to downplay the known harms of prescription opioids, more than 2,000 plaintiffs have joined the largest civil trial in U.S. history: National Prescription Opiate Litigation (MDL 2804).

Aggregate litigation can provide an efficient method to resolve disputes involving multiple parties. And as society and technology continue to evolve, so do legal responses to mass harms. The RAND Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ) and the RAND Kenneth R. Feinberg Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation assembled a distinguished group of attorneys, judges, and scholars for a virtual symposium to discuss the opioid litigation and its effects on the future of mass litigation. Why is the opioid litigation different? What might these differences mean for the future? What further research is needed to address these new challenges?

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