Mistakes and Misconceptions: HHIV 2017 -Round 2

THBT Pharmaceutical Companies Should be Civilly Liable for the Opioid Crisis.


Round 2 of the HHIV dealt with whether or not pharmaceutical companies should be civilly liable for the opioid crisis. David Register, Bard College judge, gave a statement to the Debate Correspondent after the round and said that debaters needed to do a better job on identifying if this was a US-based issue and give a description of where the problem exists. He further added that knowing how lawsuits work is where he saw debaters fall short and that a strong round would have analyzed current regulation in the pharmaceuticals market, the effects of what happens when someone wins a lawsuit and, if not, how this incentivizes pharmaceutical companies.

He made a specific note for opposition teams in this round and how they needed to talk more about why lawsuits will make things worse. Since the pharmaceutical industry is built on investments, lawsuits would ultimately scare companies and investors alike. Opposition teams should explain what the reaction of these pharmaceutical companies would be if lawsuit capabilities were enacted.


“The question really comes down to this: is it the responsibility for the citizens to sue or the government to regulate and would civil liability be a preferable alternative to lobbying?”



Another judge, Mehdi Bouchentouf, from Carleton University agreed that a major contention in this round was who the blame should fall on. He explains that pharmaceutical agencies provide a portion of revenue to doctors for various factors, but this in turn might lead them to prescribing medications that are not in the patient’s best interest and so debaters also need to look at the responsibility of doctors and what extent they may be at fault.

Mehdi noted, that a particularly good extension from closing opposition that ran in his round was on minorities and how they are negatively impacted. If pharmaceutical companies are now subjected to lawsuits, millions of dollars would now have to be allocated towards this and as a result insurance premiums would go up. Impoverished individuals suddenly have an increased difficulty to pay for this price surge and the overall benefits from the class action lawsuits wouldn’t be gained until decades following. The cost and effort for people is simply too much. Back-half teams should have overall dove more into the nuances of minority groups in relation to the motion.