The opioid epidemic is senselessly killing people and wreaking havoc on our economy, but a new day is dawning.
Opioids are highly addictive drugs that include illicit heroin as well as prescription medications like OxyContin, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl. The medications provide necessary therapy for people suffering from severe pain from cancer or serious injuries. But drug companies focused on increasing their profits promoted these powerful drugs for less severe pain and chronic conditions like migraines and backaches. They also misled doctors about opioid side effects, like addiction and dependency, respiratory depression, overdose, and death.
As a result of pharmaceutical companies recklessly marketing and distributing opioids, 11.5 million people in the United States misuse these drugs and another 2 million are classified as having an opioid disorder, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 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 aren’t only paying with their lives, but also with their pocketbooks. 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.
No demographic is spared by the opioid epidemic.
But a new day is dawning. 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. At least 180 of these cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation centralized in the Northern District Court of Ohio under Judge Dan Aaron Polster, and that number is expected to grow substantially in the months to come as new plaintiffs and defendants are added.
The federal government has also joined the fight. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that a new Prescription Interdiction & Litigation (PIL) Task Force was established by the U.S. Department of Justice to aggressively coordinate all available criminal and civil law enforcement tools to reverse “the tide of opioid overdoses in the United States,” with particular focus on opioid manufacturers and distributors. The action came six months after Sessions announced he was assigning 12 assistant U.S. attorneys to spend three years focusing exclusively on investigating and prosecuting health care and fraud related to prescription opioids.
Drug makers, distributors and pharmacies beware – the day of reckoning is coming. All the stakeholders are on the same team now. The federal government, local governments, and trial attorneys across the country have formed a coalition, and are committed to righting the tragic wrong caused by the opioid epidemic, a tragedy that is destroying lives regardless of location, wealth, race, or age, including newborn babies.
U.S. Department of Justice