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Opioid Painkiller Lawsuits

The Opioid Epidemic has spurred lawsuits filed by individuals, the Cherokee Nation, cities, counties and states in the U.S. and other countries, including Canada. These opioid lawsuits claim that drug companies have deceived doctors and the public about the safety of Addictive Opioid Medications such as Oxycontin, Fentanyl and Percocet. A number of parties are blamed for the opioid epidemic, including manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies. Even doctors and the scientific community, the FDA and the DEA are accused of contributing to the opioid crisis. Lawyers are also working with state and local governments to bring cases against big pharma.


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The Opioid Epidemic

Opioid crisis The opioid lawsuits come as states and communities are hit with a prescription drug epidemic and economic impact that has resulted in nearly 180,000 overdose deaths between 2000 and 2015. Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total financial impact of prescription opioid misuse alone in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

The most commonly prescribed opioid drugs include:
  • Oxycodone (brand names: OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)

Who is Blamed for the Opioid Epidemic?

The majority of lawsuits target Big Pharma, including McKesson, Johnson & Johnson and CVS, claiming the manufacturers fraudulently marketed opioids to the public. Other lawsuits claim that some companies failed to report suspiciously large orders of prescription pain pills placed by distributors and pharmacies.

Manufacturers and Distributors like Cardinal Health and opioid manufacturers like Purdue and Teva are accused of negligence and aggressive sales tactics. (One distributor, McKesson, entered into a $150 million settlement with the Justice Department--see below)

Cardinal Health is one of the distribution companies named in the "60 Minutes"-Washington Post investigation. “They’re sending a thousand of these highly-addictive oxycodones to [a small] pharmacy each month and then all of a sudden it's 10,000 and 50,000 and 100,000 pills,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

The State of Ohio claims that companies (below) downplayed or didn't disclose addiction risks. For instance, the Ohio state DA's complaint alleges that Endo sponsored a website called that stated in 2009 that "people who take opioids as prescribed usually do not become addicted”. As well, they are accused of violating state anti-fraud and consumer protection laws:
  • Purdue Pharma
  • Endo Health Solutions
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon
  • Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  • Allergan, formerly known as Actavis

Also accused are doctors for being too loose with their prescribing practices and the scientific community who published and depended on letters and papers that downplayed the risk of addiction from opioids. Many doctors depended on a five-sentence letter from 1980 that said that the majority of a sample of hospital patients who had been prescribed opioids did not get addicted, according to The Atlantic (June 2017). Attorney Shapiro is targeting some doctors who allegedly prescribed the pills excessively. "We've doubled the number of arrests of doctors in my office in Pennsylvania who are diverting or taking these legal pills and using them for unlawful uses," he said.

Pharmacies (mainly large drug store chains) and retail outlets such as Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS allegedly failed to report suspicious orders for controlled substances from patients or doctors.

Government Agencies

The FDA approved new, more powerful opioids but did not demand further restrictions on how they were distributed. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) did not impose quotas on how many opioids were manufactured. The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating why the DEA slowed enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies. As reported by CBS News, lawmakers and the DEA are being questioned following an explosive joint investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post . Joe Rannazzisi, formerly with the DEA, said that the opioid crisis was aided in part by Congress, lobbyists and the drug distribution industry. The DEA says it has taken actions against far fewer opioid distributors under a new law.

A Justice Department memo shows 65 doctors, pharmacies and drug companies received suspension orders in 2011, but only six have received such orders this year. The DEA has issued no suspension orders against a distributor for nearly two years. As 60 Minutes revealed, at least 46 investigators, attorneys and supervisors from the DEA, including 32 directly from the division that regulates the drug industry, have been hired by the pharmaceutical industry since the scrutiny on distributors began. A DEA whistleblower said the Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, passed in early 2016, made enforcement of suspicious opioid distributions more difficult.

Who is Filing Opioid Epidemic Lawsuits

As the opioid epidemic spreads, dozens of state, county and city governments and local law enforcement agencies are taking legal action. Some states are interviewing and issuing “requests for proposals” to law firms.

Multiple lawsuits filed by U.S. States against major pharmaceutical companies started in Mississippi and Ohio followed: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has sued five drug manufacturers for the costs of the opioid epidemic, accusing them of flooding the market with prescription painkillers that led directly to addiction for countless Ohioans.

Towns such as Greenfield, Ohio have joined a class-action lawsuit against the “big three," McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergan. It hopes to recoup municipal spending that has resulted from combating the problems associated with opioid addition and overdoses in Greenfield over the last several years. Costs include law enforcement, needle exchanges, purchases of the drug Narcan to reverse overdoses, and assorted costs for treatment. The city of Everett in Washington filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, alleging that the company knew the drug was being funneled into the black market.

The Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit in tribal court alleging the top six drug distributors and pharmacy chains flooded Oklahoma with hundreds of millions of pain pills, decimating their 14 counties.

Individuals are filing lawsuits because they had loved ones who overdosed on opioids and died. Plaintiffs claim that by prescribing and supplying these powerfully addictive drugs, physicians and pharmacies in question caused individuals to abuse the opioids and even engage in criminal activity to obtain them. In many cases, plaintiffs lost jobs or wages as a result of their addictions.

Opioid Lawsuit Settlements

In 2001, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia began a criminal investigation of Purdue Pharma. By 2007, the company and three of its executives plead guilty to "misbranding a drug" and agreed to pay criminal fines and civil penalties of more than $600 million.

In 2015, Kentucky settled with Purdue Pharma for $24 million in a lawsuit accusing the company of marketing painkiller OxyContin as non-addictive because it slowly released the dose over 12 hours. But the pills could be crushed for an instant high. Kentucky also settled with Janssen, which sold fentanyl under the name Duragesic, for $15.5 million. In July, 2017 an Ontario court approved a $20-million settlement to approximately 2,000 Canadians who filed a class-action suit against Purdue, claiming that Purdue and other manufacturers aggressively promoted opioid drugs for the treatment of arthritis and chronic back pain. As well, they assured doctors and the FDA that these products were not addictive if used properly.

Neither company admitted wrongdoing as part of the settlements.

Addictive Opioid Medication Legal Help

If you or anyone you know became addicted to prescription opioids, speak to attorney about whether you are eligible for an opioid lawsuit against physicians, pharmacists, distributors and/or manufacturers.
Last updated on


Attorney is Hopeful Current Opioid Litigation will Pave the Way for Individual Opioid Lawsuits
Attorney is Hopeful Current Opioid Litigation will Pave the Way for Individual Opioid Lawsuits
March 3, 2018
Dallas, TX: "With all these opioid lawsuits filed against big Pharma, manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains, we are hopeful that a treasure trove of discovery will be uncovered to help individuals," says attorney Shezad Malik. "This teacher, this fireman, so many people wouldn't have fallen into the opioid trap if these drugs weren't pushed on them by their doctor or hospital."

Social Worker and Mother in Recovery 30 years from Opioid Prescriptions, Son Died from Overdose
Social Worker and Mother in Recovery 30 years from Opioid Prescriptions, Son Died from Overdose
February 2, 2018
Cranston, RI: When Lori was hospitalized for a back injury 40 years ago, she was given Demerol injections and sent home with a host of opioid painkillers and sedatives. “I became physically dependent, with an unlimited supply of drugs prescribed mostly by one doctor,” Lori says. “For many years I was non-functional and depressed, and a single mother. I am lucky to be alive.”

Ohio Judge in Opioid MDL Wants Solutions
Ohio Judge in Opioid MDL Wants Solutions
January 15, 2018
St. Louis, MO: The courtroom was so packed with lawyers, clients, and interested parties that the Judge had to call for more chairs to be brought in at the first status hearing on the National Prescription Opiate Litigation proceedings in Cleveland, Ohio.


Posted by

some of us had REAL PAIN when they were prescribed. But to the person that this is frustrated about the issue. Your probably an addict as well, yes, In pain but ADDICTS DID NOT START OUT ADDICTED TO THE MEDICATION AND SAY TO THEMSELVES ONE NIGHT ", I'M GOING TO GO TO MAKE UP A CERTAIN CONDITION AT MY DOCTOR APPT (THAT I MADE BECAUSE SOMETHING IS WRONG AND IT WONT STOP, ASK FOR A CERA
CERTAIN PILL (WHICH I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT AT THE TIME) Let that medication screw up my life and future as well as my family and get high.
You have things so twisted! An addicted doesn't wake up one day and say I'm going to become an addict , they are made into one by trusting the Jerks who have the real information about the medication. Then your asked at your next appt " is your medication helping?" You state " no its still there and bad (which is very true at the time) then you are given a stronger pain pill and your life as you know it is gone. Your hope your goals your dream TAKEN FROM YOU BY LIARS YOU TRUSTED!
It isn't always what you think it is and honestly there are remedies that help you more than an opioid.
So don't go there. You don't know individuals stories .
And clearly you getting all u wanted by your doctor or you wouldn't say "it pissed you off!!!!"

My doctor had a sign up in his office wagar hat said " any naootic patients must pay Cady, even then I even
know why your tvid .rat. but I do know why now!


Posted by

This pisses me and alot of Americans that have real pain issues , now we have to suffer thanks to your greedy lawyers who dnt give a shit about the over doses of drug addicts,I know my ex was a addict and I know a addict will go to the streets ,just like marijuana. Now a person with Chronic Back Pain,Neck Pain ,OR major dental issues can not get a pain patch without narcotics thanks to blame shift, Addiction even in NA, is going to happen because of a imbalance . If A dr uses his license to feed a addiction it will be obvious in the Pharmacy records ,The problem is what is a Dr that is not able to do there job Put it in a record of what is addiction if you are making us suffer for others actions. Drs are afraid now ,Thank you for my pain that is from my neck to my finger tips

Posted by

they should it has affected my marriage Quality my husband is not the same man and these are prescriptions if he doesn't have his medicine he freaks


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