Opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, and deaths from opioid overdoses are skyrocketing across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2015 alone, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids, and 33,091 Americans died from opioid overdose. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as the legal prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
While opioids may be necessary in managing certain types of pain, opioid manufacturers have been aggressively pushing these highly addictive, unsafe medications, turning patients into addicts for their own corporate profits. They have intentionally misled doctors and the public about the risks associated with these dangerous drugs, which has resulted in a public health and safety crisis created by the pharmaceutical industry putting its bottom line ahead of patient safety.
In mid-December, lawyers at Beasley Allen filed two federal lawsuits on behalf of the City of Greenville, Alabama and Houston County, Alabama against a number of manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid medications. The complaints allege the marketing of these drugs contributed to the creation of the opioid epidemic, a public health and safety crisis. Responding to the opioid crisis has required the City of Greenville and Houston County to sustain economic damages, which include:
• costs for providing medical care;
• therapeutic care and treatments for patients suffering from opioid-related addiction or disease, including overdoses and deaths;
• costs for providing counseling and rehabilitation services;
• costs for treating infants born with opioid-related medical conditions;
• public safety and law enforcement expenses; and
• care for children whose parents suffer from opioid-related disability or incapacitation.
Additionally, dozens of other municipalities and counties around the country have filed lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors for their contribution to the nationwide opioid epidemic. In September, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that a bipartisan coalition of 41 attorneys general from across the country had demanded information and documents from the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs, part of a multistate investigation into whether the companies engaged in any unlawful practices in the marketing and distribution of prescription opioids.
In November, three hospitals in Alabama and Mississippi filed a class action federal lawsuit, which includes a claim that drug manufacturers and distributors are guilty of racketeering as defined by the government’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Because it is a class action, it represents all U.S. hospitals that have provided patients with opioid-related treatment.
In addition to representing counties and municipalities, we are investigating cases involving opioid-related deaths and overdose, or symptoms of overdose requiring hospitalization. If you have any questions regarding the litigation, or if you would like for us to review a potential claim, contact Liz Eiland or Roger Smith, lawyers in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Liz.Eiland@beasleyallen.com or Roger.Smith@beasleyallen.com.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
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