Opioid Epidemic Lawsuits
Cleveland Class Action Lawyers – (216) 600-0114
An estimated 59,000 Americans die each year due to drug overdoses, which has become the leading cause of death for adults under the age of 50. Over the last 15 years, the number of Americans who have died from a drug overdose has more than tripled, with approximately 60% of those deaths involving opioid drugs like OxyContin and fentanyl.
Beyond the enormous emotional devastation the opioid epidemic has placed on the friends and families of addicts and overdose victims, this epidemic has had a massive financial impact on government agencies. An estimated $75 Billion per year is spent on public healthcare, treatment facilities, criminal justice, jail expenses, and law enforcement efforts related to reacting to and stopping the opioid epidemic. The number of opioid prescriptions in the United States has skyrocketed from 76 million in the early 1990’s to over 200 million in 2013. The United States is the world’s largest consumer of opioids, accounting for 81% of the world’s supply of oxycodone and nearly 100% of the world’s supply of hydrocodone.
Opioid Lawsuits – Who is Being Sued and Why?
Spangenberg Shibley & Liber has been named Plaintiff’s co-liaison counsel in the national prescription opiate Multi District Litigation (MDL). We are working with other nationwide law firms to represent numerous governmental agencies against opioid manufacturers and distributers to attempt to recover the vast damages they have suffered as a result of the policies and practices of the companies responsible for creating the opioid epidemic. At this time, we are only representing governments, and we are not accepting individuals impacted by the opioid crisis.
The defendants in the cases filed on behalf of these governmental agencies have included:
- Cardinal Health
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary)
- McKesson Corp
- Purdue Pharma
- Teva Pharmaceuticals
- Allergan (Actavis)
- Endo International
- Watson Pharmaceuticals
The complaints filed allege that the pharmaceutical distributors failed to abide by the federal Controlled Substances Act by not notifying the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of dubious opioid purchases, including orders of unusual pattern, frequency, or size. The complaints also allege that the manufacturers exaggerated the benefits of the pain relievers and failed to disclose the true addictive nature of the drugs.
Damages Sought as Part of the Opioid Epidemic
Government agencies are seeking reimbursement for some of the healthcare, law enforcement, treatment, and social costs related to opioid abuse, which is estimated to be nearly $75 billion each year.
Some of the damages in the opioid epidemic lawsuits include:
- Building and maintaining treatment facilities to assist those who have become addicted to opioids.
- Reimbursement of Medicaid and other governmental expenses related to the treatment of addicts. This includes repayment for unnecessarily prescribed opioids, and the antidote (Naloxone/Narcan) to treat overdose victims.
- Reimbursement for costs of jails and prosecutions.
- Reimbursement for the added expense of law enforcement and medical personnel required to treat the opioid epidemic.
Overview of Opioid Addiction in America
Current estimates show that nearly 2 million Americans are addicted to opioids, and in the past year, more than 90 million Americans used a prescription painkiller. The pain relievers most commonly prescribed are Oxycodone (such as OxyContin, Percodan & Roxicet), hydrocodone (such as Vicodin, Lorcet & Lortab), methadone, fentanyl, and morphine. Opioid addicts include individuals of all ages, race, ethnicity, education, and socioeconomic status. Specifically, white, working-class, individuals living in rural areas make up one the largest subset of opioid related deaths.
Fentanyl, an opioid, appears to be related to the most overdose deaths, especially when it is combined with heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. One fentanyl variant or analog, Carfentanil, is 5,000 times stronger than heroin. Carfentanil is so potent that an amount as small as a few grains of sand can be fatal. The drug is so powerful that even when numerous doses of the antidote naloxone (Narcan) are administered in the specified time, the patient is not expected to survive.
Opioid Epidemic Attorneys Setting Things Right
At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, our partnership with many other nationwide law firms represents what might be our best chance yet at stopping the opioid epidemic. We are ready and willing to fight on the behalf of governments who deserve significant compensation from the large pharmaceutical companies that have allowed, if not encouraged, the opioid epidemic to become so widespread. In turn, the government agencies’ collective objective sends a strong message to Big Pharma and, hopefully, protects the lives of the average American.
Want to know more about joining a class action to stop the opioid epidemic? Call our class action lawyers in Cleveland – we represent governments around the country – by dialing (216) 600-0114 today.