2,000+ Plaintiffs Have Brought Opioid Lawsuits Against Big Pharma

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates around 50,000 Americans die each year due to an opioid overdose. The ongoing crisis has been called an epidemic by the federal government because it is not only severe already, but it also shows no sign yet of slowing.

In response to the opioid epidemic, more than 2,000 plaintiffs consisting of state, county, and even tribal governments have filed lawsuits against dozens of Big Pharma companies. According to their claims, opioid manufacturers and distributors knowingly understated the addictive properties and dangers of opioids, leading countless doctors to prescribe the medicines without understanding how it would affect their patients.

Opioid Cases Mirror Big Tobacco Lawsuits from the 90s

With so many government plaintiffs putting their hat into the legal ring over the opioid crisis, the cases were bound to hit a few obstacles. In fact, the cases are looking very much like Big Tobacco lawsuits in the 90s, which sought to hold tobacco companies responsible for nationwide smoking deaths and nicotine addiction. In those cases, one of the greatest challenges was deciding how any jury verdict or settlement should be divided fairly among the plaintiffs.

Each plaintiff has a right to a share of any awards earned through opioid litigation. But the question that lingers is how much is a fair share? Should the award be based purely on the number of people affected by the opioid epidemic in a plaintiff’s region? This approach may be unreliable because opioid addiction and deaths affect far more than just opioid users. For example, family members and employers often stand to lose or suffer just as much as a user when addiction becomes a serious health hazard.

If this approach is not used, would awards be divided evenly? That is to say, if there were 100 plaintiffs in a specific lawsuit being handled in a federal court, would each receive 1% of the award? Again, concerns arise about the usefulness of that method, too, since assuredly each plaintiff has been affected uniquely by the opioid epidemic.

Purdue Pharma Settles for $10 Billion

Amid the ongoing lawsuits, Purdue Pharmaceutical agreed to a settlement amount of $10 billion, which it will pay across multiple years. On the surface, the settlement appears to be a sizeable victory for opioid plaintiffs. A closer look, though, reveals it is still seen as problematic as many.

Some parties believe Purdue does not even have the financial means to pay the settlement amount. The Big Pharma company filed for bankruptcy shortly after agreeing to the settlement, prompting some to think it was reached just for show and not out of earnest. Others still say the settlement amount was only reached to shield the Sacklers from liability. The Sackler family owns Purdue, and they allegedly moved billions of dollars in offshore accounts recently.

When to File an Opioid Lawsuit

There seem to be so many disagreements among the thousands of plaintiffs against Big Pharma, it can seem intimidating to even think about joining the situation with an opioid lawsuit of your own. The truth remains, though, that filing a lawsuit is something that must be done if Big Pharma is to be held accountable for its actions that have seemingly contributed to the opioid epidemic. If a message is to be sent to Big Pharma and other multinational corporations, then continuing opioid litigation and new filings from even more plaintiffs are necessary.

For updates about opioid epidemic lawsuits, be sure to visit the blog of Golomb & Honik, P.C. in Philadelphia frequently. To see if you should be part of a consumer class action against Big Pharma for the harm opioid has caused in your life, please call us at (215) 278-4449 to arrange a free consultation.

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