Saddled with legal debt and being blamed for playing a role in the nation’s opioid epidemic, the American Pain Society (APS) voted to dissolve its organization and seek Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The 42-year-old organization has been named in numerous lawsuits related to the prescribing and abuse of opioid pain killers, which has caused tens of thousands of overdose deaths and millions of dollars in economic damages.
“The organization’s financial health has deteriorated as a result of litigation,” the APS said in a statement, and has resulted in a “perfect storm” that left leaders of the group with little option but to fold.
“Our resources are being diverted to paying staff to comply with subpoenas and other requests for information and for payment of legal fees instead of funding research grants, sponsoring pain education programs, and public policy advocacy,” said APS President William Maixner, DDS, PhD.
The organization’s demise was evident as early as late May, when APS informed its membership that it would be voting on whether to file for bankruptcy and cease its business operations. At least 10 percent of the society’s near 1,200 members needed to vote in favor of the recommendation in order for it to pass. The decision was made with only one round of voting.
The organization will either do away with or hand off to other organizations its monthly Journal of Pain, several research grants, a young investors fund, and its annual scientific meeting.
The organization allegedly pocketed nearly $1 million from opioid makers from 2012 and 2017, according to Congressional reports. Supporters of APS said the group used the money not to push opioid sales, but to advocate for appropriate access to patients suffering with pain, as well as advocate for access to non-drug treatments, like acupuncture and massage therapy, and chiropractic treatments.
According to the Department of Health & Human Services, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids and 33,091 Americans died from opioid overdose in 2015 alone. These medications provide important pain relief for many. However, over the years, drug companies inflated the effectiveness of delayed-release medications like OxyContin and downplayed their addictive properties, creating conditions ripe for abuse.
Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team, which includes these lawyers: Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Ryan Kral, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Jeff Price. This team represents the State of Alabama, the State of Georgia, and numerous local governments, as well as other entities in opioid multdistrict litigation (MDL). They also handle individual claims on behalf of victims.