US appeals court says judge went too far on drug data order

Posted at 2:16 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 14:16:38-04

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that a judge went too far in blocking release of federal data about how prescription opioids were distributed.

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel on Thursday vacated an order by Cleveland-based U.S. District Judge Dan Polster to keep the information sealed. The panel wrote that Polster should follow proper legal standards in deciding what information could be withheld and why.

The judges heard arguments May 2 in Cincinnati from news media attorneys who said the information was important to understanding a national public health crisis. A U.S. government attorney countered that making the data public could compromise ongoing Drug Enforcement Administration investigations.

Polster is overseeing more than 1,500 lawsuits filed by municipalities against companies that make and distribute prescription painkillers.