Judge: Former Opioid Advocate Can Testify Against Industry

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A federal jury will be able to hear from a doctor who spent decades advocating for broader use of powerful prescription painkillers before turning against the opioid industry.

A special court master had ruled earlier this month that the testimony of Dr. Russell Portenoy, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, would not be allowed at an upcoming federal trial against opioid drugmakers.

The reason was that attorneys representing the local governments suing the industry had failed to disclose for nearly a year that Portenoy was cooperating with them.

But federal Judge Dan Polster ruled late last week that blocking Portenoy’s testimony from an initial trial was too “extreme.” He is overseeing more than 1,500 cases that have been combined in his Cleveland courtroom.