By the time 2012 was over, 793 million doses of opioid-based pain killing medication had been prescribed in the United States. It was determined that 20 percent of the population of the state of Ohio had been prescribed pain killers, and Ohio wound up having the most number of deaths associated with opioids in 2012. Since 2012, the opioid addiction crisis has gotten worse and a lot of government officials are trying to figure out who should be held liable for the rise in overdose deaths.
Opioid Addiction In The Bronx
In 2015, 937 people died of unintentional drug overdoses throughout all of New York City. Within that group, 80 percent died from overdoses of opioids and new pain killers such as fentanyl. The Bronx was home to 30 percent of that population that died from opioids, making the area the hardest hit by the overdose deaths attributed to opioid addiction.
Long Island and other parts of New York State are bringing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical manufacturers to help recover the costs associated with treating opioid addiction. If that sounds familiar, then it should. For many people, the opioid crisis is simply the Big Tobacco lawsuits all over again.
Similarities Between The Opioid And Tobacco Lawsuits
The Big Tobacco lawsuits of the late 1990s were attempts by the states to recover the money spent fighting the deadly effects of cigarette smoking. The contention in each lawsuit is that the tobacco companies knew of the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but they chose to hide that information from the public. Since people had no idea smoking was bad for them, they would smoke without hesitation. When people started dying from lung and throat cancer, questions started to pop up that the smoking industry could not ignore.
While there are many doctors, medical distributors, and pharmacies being sued for the opioid addiction crisis, the main brunt of the lawsuits are aimed directly at the pharmaceutical manufacturers and for the same reasons that lawsuits were brought against the tobacco manufacturers. States and counties throughout the country are claiming that the pharmaceutical manufacturers deceived the public and doctors about the addicting and potentially deadly effects of opioid pain killers, and they did it to further company profits.
Can Prescribing Doctors Be Held Liable?
Almost every person in the United States blindly trusts a prescribed medication, because they trust their doctors. If that is the case, then why aren’t more doctors being sued for the opioid addiction? The kind of negligence many lawsuits are claiming against pharmaceutical companies stem from defects in warnings.
It is the job of the drug manufacturer to warn against all possible side-effects for their medications, and it is those listed side-effects that doctors use to make their decisions about whether or not to prescribe a medication. When the pharmaceutical companies did not warn against addiction or death due to overdose, doctors were not inclined to feel that those side-effects could occur. When the manufacturer failed to disclose all potential side-effects and did not put in the proper warnings for their products, they took on the full brunt of the responsibility when those medications created negative effects.
Can A Personal Injury Lawsuit Be Pursued?
In a personal injury lawsuit, any person who is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of a defective or dangerous product can be named as a defendant. In the case of the opioid crisis, the manufacturers have become the primary targets because their negligence is easiest to prove. A doctor can claim that they were working with the information they were given, while the manufacturer has to accept responsibility for that incorrect information.
There are new lawsuits against drug manufacturers all over the country being filed by states and counties that have put billions of dollars into trying to beat the opioid addiction crisis. For these states and counties, blame for the opioid crisis lies squarely with the pharmaceutical industry. As the evidence is presented, it might just be difficult to deny that line of logic.