For decades, much of the discussion regarding the opioid crisis has centered largely, if not exclusively, on the toll the crisis has inflicted on the addicted and their loved ones. All too often, little if any discussion has focused on the role that opioid manufacturers and distributors may have played in the wide proliferation of these dangerous drugs.
As a result, these companies worth billions of dollars have rarely had to defend themselves from legal action, but this has recently changed in a major way. Now, hundreds of opioid lawsuits have been filed, including six states that have formally announced lawsuits against the creator of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma.
Here is a closer look at the reason why legal claims against opioid companies are on the rise.
Increase in Opioid Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers
As the creators of opioid drugs, manufacturers are increasingly finding themselves as defendants in opioid litigation. The legal argument against these manufacturers is that their products are ones that the companies either knew or should have known were not safe or effective for use.
In spite of this, these companies continued to advertise their products as safe and/or effective for consumption by the general public. Effectively, then, these lawsuits center on accusations that these manufacturers and opioid companies engaged in false or misleading advertising. There are many such examples of legal arguments against these manufacturers that are making these claims against opioid manufacturers.
Several companies, for example, have engaged in marketing efforts that claim opioids are rarely addiction if "properly" used for chronic pain treatment and management. Purdue (the maker of OxyContin), for example, sponsored an American Pain Foundation publication that was heavily funded by opioid companies, which claimed that addiction risk for children who are prescribed opioids is "less than 1 percent", according to Vox reporting.
Regardless of the findings from these studies, it is well-established, common knowledge that opioids have been provably addicting for centuries. And, evidence shows that opioid addiction and overdoses have increased after these companies saw a surging increase in profits.
Lawsuits Are Also Being Filed Against Opioid Distributors
Lawsuits are also being filed against companies that distribute opioids, which rests upon a different argument than the false advertising claim at issue in lawsuits against manufacturers.
Specifically, some federal and state laws explicitly require distributors to stop controlled substances like opioids from being misused or used for unlawful purposes. These lawsuits allege that distributors ignored this legal requirement by continuing to distribute opioids, even after it was clear that there was a nationwide crisis of overdose deaths.
Indeed, the CDC has found that there are more painkiller prescriptions than people in some states. West Virginia, most notably, has a population of just under 2 million people, yet nearly 800 million painkillers entered the state between 2007 and 2012, according to a Charleston Gazette-Mail investigation.
Talk to a Ledger Law Opioid Attorney
If you or a loved one has been affected by the opioid crisis, you are far from alone. It is estimated that at least two-thirds of the nearly 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 can be attributed to opioids.
As a national law firm, The Ledger Law Firm represents plaintiffs of opioid lawsuits in all 50 states. Contact us online for a free case evaluation to discuss your legal claim with a Ledger Law opioid overdose lawyer today.