The ever-increasing number of opioid overdose deaths (over 64,000 in 2016)
in cities across the United States has resulted in cities, counties and
states turning to the courts. A few years ago, there were a mere handful
of opioid-related lawsuits, but since that time the spiraling opioid crisis
has resulted in a flood claims which allege drug manufacturing and distribution
companies have improperly marketed opioids, as well as failed to report
large orders which most would find suspicious.
As of December 2017, more than 200 civil cases had been filed by local
governments in federal courts, while dozens of additional opioid lawsuits
are playing out in state courts. Attorneys general from 41 states have
even joined together to explore the legal options of the states.
Pharmaceutical Company Believes There is No Comparison Between Opioid Litigation
and Tobacco Litigation
Dozens of lawyers met in Cleveland in early January where a judge will
oversee at least 189 of the federal cases. Many feel this is an indication
that the legal opioid battle is going to begin moving quickly, with some
equating the opioid lawsuits to the tobacco lawsuits in the 1990’s.
Who can forget the sight of the drug company CEO’s testifying that
they did not believe cigarettes were addictive.
It comes as no surprise that the drug manufacturers and distributors say
they will defend their companies vigorously, overall denying the claims
made in the current lawsuits. In fact, one spokesperson for Purdue Pharma,
the company who developed OxyContin, said there was no comparison between
the current opioid litigation and the tobacco litigation, because “our medicines are approved by the FDA, prescribed by doctors, and dispensed
by pharmacists…” What they did not say is that they violate state and federal
laws which limit the distribution of the drugs.
Time to Force Drug Manufacturers to Change Marketing Tactics?
Since the first lawsuit was filed, many more states, counties and cities
have joined in—well over 200. Because the opioid epidemic begins
with legal, prescription drug, it requires a different approach than those
commonly used with illegal drugs, even though about 75 percent of all
those who enter heroin addiction treatment received their first opioid
through a legal prescription.
Although many different states have attempted to stop the use of opioids
time after time, when prescription painkillers are unavailable, many opioid
addicts resort to illegal drugs, primarily heroin, which is readily available.
Unfortunately, two additional drugs, carfentanil and fentanyl, are used
by some when heroin or prescription painkillers are unavailable, and these
drugs can be as much as 50 times more potent than prescription painkillers.
Many of those who resort to these two drugs end up overdosing the very
first time they use the drug because they do not understand just how strong
the drugs are. In addition to the more than 200 current lawsuits, information
is now being subpoenaed from J & J, Teva, Allergan and Endo. Purdue
Pharma, as well as drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen
have all been subject to requests for additional information.
At present, all the cases filed are civil, and most of the state, county
and municipal entities are asking for financial compensation to help cover
the losses incurred from fighting the opioid epidemic. There is also a
strong push to force drug manufacturers to change their marketing tactics,
making sure consumers understand how addictive the prescription painkillers can be.
To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation call the
Philadelphia class action lawyers at Golomb & Honik today at
1-800-355-3300 or 1-215-985-9177 or fill out our confidential
The national product liability lawyers at Golomb & Honik have successfully
represented individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
throughout the United States.