Baby K’s opioid withdrawal symptoms came on like a storm, causing her tiny newborn body to quake and her high-pitched wails to ring through the hospital halls. Her mother’s consumption of the powerful painkillers while still pregnant with Baby K affected the infant immediately after birth, and will continue to plague her for the rest of her life.
Now 3 years old, Baby K has undergone behavioral, speech and hearing therapy to manage the long-term effects of opioid exposure while she was still in her mother’s womb. As our team of lawyers investigates the fallout from the opioid epidemic, we come across one horrible scene after another: babies born addicted to opioids. In every case Beasley Allen files, damages will be sought to fund long-term treatment for these innocent victims of the opioid epidemic fueled by pharmaceutical companies, drug distributors, and pharmacies.
Opioid overdoses took 42,000 lives in 2016, a tragic statistic that has driven down the country’s life expectancy for the second year in a row, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Americans have paid not only with their lives, but with their wallets. The Council of Economic Advisors, the agency charged with advising the President on economic issues affecting the U.S., puts the cost of the opioid crisis for substance abuse treatment, criminal justice, reduced productivity, and lives lost at more than $500 billion.
Like a hurricane coming ashore with unbridled force, the opioid epidemic’s wrath of death and destruction spares no demographic. Not even our most vulnerable citizens – our children and babies.
The youngest victims
From 2000 to 2012, there was an estimated five-fold increase in the number of babies born in the U.S. with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That translates to 21,732 babies born addicted in 2012 alone. NAS is diagnosed in babies that have had chronic fetal exposure to substances that were used or abused by their mother during pregnancy. The condition occurs once the baby is abruptly removed from exposure after birth.
It’s hard to put a price tag on the toll the opioid crisis has taken on our children, but it is seen in the dramatic increase in money spent for child protection services, the growing number of reports of child abuse, and the spike in placements of children in foster care.
Attorneys for Baby K and others born addicted to opioids blame the drug companies for “developing a well-funded, sophisticated and deceptive marketing scheme targeted at physicians and consumers,” that, in turn, led to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The lawsuit alleges pharmaceutical companies and their distributors exaggerated the benefits of opioids and downplayed the risks and consequences.
Beasley Allen is leading the charge to save lives and recoup billions of dollars from those responsible for the senseless pain and suffering caused by the opioid epidemic. Our attorneys and others are representing a growing number of cities, counties, and states in lawsuits against opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies, including a case filed earlier this month on behalf of Alabama’s capital, the City of Montgomery. At least 180 of these cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation centralized in the Northern District Court of Ohio. The number is expected to grow substantially in the months to come as new plaintiffs and defendants are added.
The wrath of the opioid epidemic continues to lash out on our communities, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. It is time we hold these drug companies accountable and seek justice for our most vulnerable citizens, like Baby K., innocently caught in the eye of this terrible opioid storm.
Stanford Children’s Hospital