While all pharmaceutical drugs in the United States have been tested and approved by the FDA, it is estimated that nearly half of all drugs marketed have deleterious effects on those who use them. This is especially true of opioids, which have wreaked havoc on communities across America over the last few decades. To help you better understand this rapidly-developing issue, here is our handy guide to pharmaceutical injuries in the time of the opioid crisis.
A Growing Epidemic
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, as of 2016 more than 11 million Americans were abusing prescription opioids. Data from the Center for Disease Control shows that this epidemic results in the deaths of roughly 115 Americans every day, with over 300,000 killed since 2001, and the possibility that another 500,000 will die due to opioid overdose in the next decade.
While fentanyl and heroin account for the majority of opioid overdoses, the fact is that most of those who become addicted to these drugs began by abusing prescription painkillers. This is the direct result of the popularity of opioid-based prescriptions issued by doctors starting in the late ‘90s.
With such rampant opioid abuse, it’s not surprising that several class-action lawsuits have emerged targeting drug manufacturers – with the most notable of these suits the $600 million settlement reached with Purdue Pharma – the makers of OxyContin – in 2007. In total, more than 100 cities and states have filed class-action suits against pharmaceutical companies, distributes and health providers for allegedly contributing to the developing crisis.
These class-action suits have focused on the negligence of the pharmaceutical companies, arguing that they intentionally withheld damaging information regarding the addictive nature of the medicines, failed to provide safety mechanisms, such as tamper-resistant formulations, or falsely labeled their products as safer than alternatives. In addition, some pharmaceutical injuries suits have alleged that manufacturers and distributors knew that a percentage of their products were diverted for nefarious means but continued supplying them to reap further profits. In fact, the attorneys general of six states – Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota. Texas and Tennessee – have argued that drug manufacturers have violated consumer protection laws by downplaying and denying the inherent risks associated with opioids.
These suits have not, however, resulted in the admission of guilt or responsibility, or successfully dented the profits of, drug manufacturers – with the industry valued at over $13 billion per year. As the suits continue to mount, though, it is certain they will have a lasting effect on the pharmaceutical industry.
Impact of Litigation
While these lawsuits have not harmed drug manufacturer’s bottom lines, they have had a positive impact on the industry and society in general. The financial windfalls from successful litigation have provided significant funding for state-sponsored drug rehabilitation services, as well as law enforcement, and has played an essential role in changing industry practices and raising public awareness.
Pharmaceutical injuries, including the opioid epidemic, is a serious issue which continues to haunt communities and families across the country. If you feel that you have been the victim of pharmaceutical injury, contact the Law Offices of James C. Dezao, P.A. at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation today. With over 25 years of experience, our attentive and knowledgeable team of lawyers will fight for you as if it was personal – and will guarantee that your voice will be heard.