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Federal court to consider news outlet access to opioid data

CINCINNATI (AP) — A three-judge panel will hear arguments on whether federal data about how prescription opioid drugs were distributed should be made public.

Attorneys for two news organizations are urging the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to overturn a lower-court judge’s denial of access to the information.

The data is a key piece of evidence in hundreds of lawsuits filed by state and local governments against companies that make and distribute the drugs. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency provided it to parties in the suits. It details the flow of prescription painkillers to pharmacies, showing the number and doses of pills.

Cleveland-based Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing more than 1,500 of the lawsuits, ruled it cannot be made public. He said doing so would reveal trade secrets.

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