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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 painknowledge.com 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.
Please click here for a free evaluation of your Opioid Medication claim

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OPIOID MEDICATION LEGAL ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

The Opioid Crisis—Who is Responsible?
The Opioid Crisis—Who is Responsible?
November 14, 2017
Santa Clara, CA:: While cities, counties and states nationwide are filing opioid lawsuits, those defendants--that include big Pharma, manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains-- maintain that they cannot be held responsible for what happens to pain pills once they travel down the supply chain. And is anyone taking into account people in pain [READ MORE]

East Texas County Joins Legal War Against Opioid Manufacturers
East Texas County Joins Legal War Against Opioid Manufacturers
October 12, 2017
Dallas, TX: Upshur, a small rural county in east Texas with a population of about 35,000, has filed a lawsuit against 17 pharmaceutical companies claiming the drug makers are directly responsible for the opioid epidemic that has gripped its community. The lawsuit, put forward by the Upshur County District Attorney’s Office, alleges corporate marketing promoted drug addiction in the county and saddled the public with a huge financial burden and left a trail of human misery [READ MORE]

Opioid Epidemic Lawsuits Filed Nationwide while Big Pharma Makes Big Profits
Opioid Epidemic Lawsuits Filed Nationwide while Big Pharma Makes Big Profits
September 28, 2017
Miami, FL: In the wake of the Opioid Epidemic now declared a national emergency, big Pharma faces a tsunami of litigation. Miami has just announced it may file a prescription opioid lawsuit against the manufacturers, adding to the long list of cities and municipalities that have declared an opioid crisis [READ MORE]


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READER COMMENTS

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

Posted by Valerie Mortz-Rogers on

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