Opioid Epidemic Lawsuits
Cleveland Class Action Lawyers Representing Government Agencies
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 128 people die every day due to opioid overdoses. From 1999 to 2018, nearly 450,000 Americans died in opioid-related overdoses, including overdoses involving both illicit and prescription opioids.
While recent data reveal that opioid-related deaths decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018 (the latest year for which data are available), millions of Americans continue to struggle with opioid addiction and related substance abuse disorders. In addition to the immeasurable physical and emotional devastation it has caused, the opioid epidemic has had a significant financial impact on various government entities.
As reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the estimated economic impact of prescription opioid misuse in the United States amounts to approximately $78.5 billion every year. This figure takes into account issues such as the cost of healthcare, addiction treatment, criminal proceedings, and lost productivity caused annually by prescription opioid misuse.
At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, we represent government agencies who have experienced financial losses and other damages related to the United States opioid epidemic. Continue reading to learn more or contact us directly to speak to a Cleveland opioid epidemic lawsuit lawyer at our firm about how we may be able to assist you in seeking compensation for your damages.
Opioid Lawsuits—Who Is Being Sued & Why?
Spangenberg Shibley & Liber has been named plaintiffs’ 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 in an 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; we are not accepting cases involving individuals impacted by the opioid crisis.
To date, 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
We have represented government agencies against defendants who negligently failed to follow the Controlled Substances Act, which requires entities to report suspicious opioid purchases to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). “Suspicious” purchases involve those related to unusual purchasing patterns, including frequent purchases or purchases of unusual sizes. Additionally, our attorneys have argued that pharmaceutical opioid manufacturers failed to report the addictive nature of prescription opioids while exaggerating their benefits, leading to a massive increase in the number of dangerous drugs prescribed.
Damages Sought in Opioid Litigation
Government agencies are seeking reimbursement for some of the healthcare, law enforcement, treatment, and social costs related to opioid abuse.
Some of the damages in the opioid epidemic lawsuits include:
- Construction and maintenance costs related to opioid treatment facilities
- Medicaid reimbursement and additional related expenses associated with opioid treatment, including the cost of unnecessarily prescribed opioids and overdose treatment involving Naloxone/Narcan
- Criminal justice and law enforcement costs related to prosecutions, prison sentences, etc.
- Law enforcement and medical personnel costs associated with the opioid epidemic
Overview of Opioid Addiction in the United States
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), approximately 10.3 million Americans misused opioids in 2018 (the latest year for which data are available), with 9.9 million people misusing prescription pain relievers. That same year, two out of three drug overdose deaths involved opioids.
Some of the most commonly prescribed pain relievers include:
- Oxycodone (such as OxyContin, Percodan, and Roxicet)
- Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin, Lorcet, and Lortab)
Opioid addiction does not discriminate. Those suffering with drug abuse and addiction include individuals of all ages, races, ethnicities, education levels, and socioeconomic statuses. That being said, white, working-class individuals living in rural areas make up one the largest subset of opioid related deaths.
The opioid fentanyl appears to be related to the most overdose deaths, especially when it is combined with heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin and as much as 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. 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.
How the Opioid Epidemic Happened
How did opioid misuse and addiction get so out of control in the United States?
The CDC classifies the epidemic into three waves:
- The first wave began in the late 1990s when doctors began prescribing natural and semi-synthetic opioids at much higher rates due to misinformation from drug manufacturers that opioids were highly effective and non-addictive
- The second wave occurred around 2010 and continued into the early 2010s with a sharp increase in heroin-related overdose deaths
- The third and final wave began around 2013 as more and more people started dying due to overdoses involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl (specifically illicitly manufactured/distributed fentanyl)
In 2018, the total number of overdose deaths was four times higher than it was in 1999, despite the fact that opioid-related overdose deaths decreased by 2% from the previous year. Specifically, prescription opioid deaths decreased by 13.5% and heroin deaths decreased by 4% in the U.S. from 2017 to 2018. Notably, synthetic opioid death rates increased by 10% (not including methadone).
Opioid Epidemic Attorneys Fighting to Set 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 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 Cleveland class action lawyers. We represent government agencies across the country.
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