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What Are Some Examples of Opioid Litigation Cases?

What Are Some Examples of Opioid Litigation Cases?

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What Are Some Examples of Opioid Litigation Cases?

When the opioid crisis first hit the United States in the 1990s, not so many understood the actual magnitude of this epidemic. Fast forward to the 21st century, more than 1 million Americans have died from an opioid overdose. The most painful thing about these deaths is that most of them could have been avoided. All that was needed was a little bit of integrity from certain parties involved. 

As a result of the alarming death toll, many states, governments, and even individuals began to file lawsuits against negligent parties who played a role in creating and nurturing this crisis. So what entities are being sued, and what is the basis for the lawsuits? Read on for more details. 

The Case Against Opioid Manufacturers Explained

Most opioid litigation cases target opioid manufacturers. Here's why.  

Many opioid lawsuits target opioid manufacturers for their role in creating this crisis. The lawsuits alleged that manufacturers aggressively promoted the benefits of using opioids and failed to warn the public about the risks involved. As a result, many consumers trusted the marketing messages and began taking opioids in large amounts. 

This was a case of false advertising. According to multiple reports, opioid companies spent millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to highlight the benefits of opioids while downplaying the risks involved. In 2009, an Endo-sponsored website PainKnowledge.com published a patient education guide to counter the 'myth' that opioids were addictive. 

This was done to maintain the skyrocketing opioid sales by creating a sense of safety among consumers. However, the saddest truth is that pharmaceutical companies sponsored these marketing campaigns knowing that opioids were addictive. For example, Janssen, a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson, allegedly approved the publication of the patient education guide on PainKnowledge.com even though they knew it contained misleading information that could potentially harm opioid consumers. 

They knew that disclosing such information would have resulted in a mass decrease in sales or even lawsuits. But as things turned out, the addiction rates told a different story. And lawsuits were inevitable. 

Medical institutions were also not left behind; doctors began prescribing opioids to patients, not knowing they came with a severe risk of addiction. As a result, the number of opioid overdose cases rose to alarming levels. According to the CDC, in 2019 alone, there were 49,860 opioid deaths, 70.6% of all drug overdose deaths in the country at the time. 

In 2017, more than 70,000 people lost their lives due to drug overdose. The death rate was so high it reduced the overall life expectancy in the country. In addition, close to two-thirds of those deaths were due to opioid addiction.

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FAQ

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  • Why Sue Opioid Manufacturers? 

    It all narrows down to negligence and greed; opioid manufacturers were more interested in making money and exploiting consumers' vulnerability than providing real solutions to their problems. In an attempt to solve certain medical problems, these manufacturers created even a bigger problem that took the lives of innocent individuals whose only mistake was trusting the manufacturer's products. 

    Another study also discovered that opioid makers also exaggerated the benefits of opioids. The 2015 study revealed that around that time, the increased opioid sales also led to an increase in opioid addiction and deaths. 

    Then, the effectiveness of opioids was put under the microscope. Besides safety, multiple lawsuits argued that opioids weren't as effective as the manufacturers claimed. Instead, the risks seemed to outweigh the benefits. In addition, some studies claimed that there was a lack of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of opioids in treating long-term chronic pain, given that most patients became tolerant to opioids, leading to addiction. 
     

  • Why Are Opioid Distributors Getting Sued? 

    Some opioid lawsuits have been filed against distributors of these drugs. These lawsuits allege that distributors did not stop the overflow of opioids into the market, even when they knew or should have known that there were irregularities in the distribution process. In addition, another report revealed that opioid manufacturers distributed more opioids in some states than there were people. 

    But why hold them accountable when all they did was distribute the drugs from manufacturers? Here's why. 

    Distributors are actively involved in the supply chain process of drugs and other products. Therefore, they have a legal responsibility to notify authorities or other relevant agencies when the distribution of certain products, especially pharmaceuticals, does not align with the population. 

    For example, suppose a town has 1000 residents. In that case, it makes no sense to distribute 1,000,000 orders of opioids within the area. This irregularity indicates that someone in the production, supply, and distribution chain is making profits along the way. 

    To put things into perspective, a Cherokee Nation lawsuit filed against big pharmaceutical companies like Cardinal Health, CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, Walgreens, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson Corporation alleged that approximately 845 million milligrams of opioids were distributed across the 14 countries that make up the Cherokee Nation. This translates to roughly 360 pills per person living in the Cherokee Nation.

    From the above example, someone along the supply chain should have noticed the incredible amount of opioids shipments into the Cherokee Nation and notified the relevant authorities. However, given that it was business as usual and most distributors focused on profits rather than the community's overall well-being, they did not do anything about this problem. 

    West Virginia is also another example of a case of negligence on the side of opioid distributors. According to a report published by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, more than 780 million painkillers arrived in the state between 2007 and 2012. 

    Bear in mind that the state only has a population of around 1.8 million. To put this into perspective, the small town of Kemit, which has a population of slightly over 300, received more than 9 million hydrocodone pills in two years. The most fascinating thing about these shipments is that they all came from out-of-state drug companies. 

    Joining the dots together, it is clear that someone along the line was benefitting from the supply of opioids across different states in the country without caring about the effects they had on the consumer. They also did not care about the local population or whether or not these drugs were needed in the first place.  

  • Examples of Opioid Litigation Cases Across the United States

    In May 2014, the Santa Clara County Counsel's Office teamed up with the Orange County District Attorney's Office to file a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers on behalf of the people of the State of California. The lawsuit cited most of the issues we discussed earlier: downplaying the risks of addiction and exaggerating the benefits of opioids. 

    The lawsuit targeted several pharmaceutical giants in the country, including Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Endo, Teva, and Allergan. In a tactical retreat to avoid legal responsibility, Perdue declared bankruptcy in September 2019, temporarily holding the case. However, in 2021, a California Superior Court judge ruled that the case against opioid manufacturers would proceed to trial. 

    In the summer of 2020, Mallinckrodt, one of the nation's largest generic opioid manufacturers, agreed to settle $1.6 billion for all claims filed against the company by various states, cities, and counties. 

    In one of the biggest opioid litigation cases in the country, 23 states and attorneys representing approximately 2,000 local governments settled with Purdue Pharma. Part of the deal was to have the pharmaceutical company file for bankruptcy, which they did, and pay $12 billion over time. The landmark deal also required the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue and Mundipharma, to settle at least $4.5 billion of the total amount. The settlement involved future profits and the value of drugs currently in development. 

    The Sackler family was also the subject of individual lawsuits from many states. As a result, there have been some promising outcomes from the lawsuits - the company agreed to pay Oklahoma $270 million. 

    In 2007, Purdue and some of the company's top executives paid $635 million in fines for false advertising. 

    A court in Oklahoma also ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay over $570 million for its involvement in the opioid crisis.

    In 2019, McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and Teva Pharmaceuticals were ordered to pay $260 million to the counties of Cuyahoga and Summit in Ohio. 

    In 2017, Costco Wholesale was ordered to pay $11.5 million to the US government for violating the Controlled Substances Act. The same year, Cardinal Health was ordered to pay $20 million to the state of West Virginia for the questionable distribution of opioids in the state within 2007 and 2012, as discussed earlier. The multinational health care services company also paid $44 million to the United States government in 2016 for violating the Control Substances Act in Maryland, New York, and Florida. 

  • How a Morgan & Morgan Opioid Lawyer Can Help

    From the above statistics, it is encouraging to discover that many governments and individuals are now taking action against various pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, the devastating effects of opioid overdose have spread into our communities and families, and it is time to fight back.  

    The saddest truth is that many families have lost their loved ones to the opioid crisis. It is even more heartbreaking to learn that most people struggling with opioid addiction were initially looking for an effective way to manage their chronic pain. But, instead, they landed into a bigger problem, most losing their livelihood and dignity in the process. 

    If you or your loved one is a victim of the opioid crisis, we may be able to help. Here's how. 

    At Morgan & Morgan, we are the largest personal injury law firm in the United States. We've helped our clients recover more than $10 billion from different lawsuits across the country over the past three decades.

    The truth is, pharmaceutical companies are not the easiest to deal with. They will do whatever it takes to avoid taking legal responsibility, even if it means filing for bankruptcy. For this and many other reasons, you need a law firm that understands the different tactics such big companies use to avoid being held responsible for their negligence.

    Even more importantly, you need a law firm with the right experience and resources to fight for your rights. Opioid litigation cases can be frustrating to pursue, especially if you do not know where to start. As a result, many people give up along the way out of the frustration of dealing with pharmaceutical companies.

    However, when you contact Morgan & Morgan, you can rest easy knowing that our attorneys are fighting for you. Suppose you have a valid claim against an opioid manufacturer, distributor, or any other relevant party. In that case, we will create the right legal strategy for your claim and pursue it to the very end. And if they are not willing to settle out of court, we will see them in court. 

    Do not suffer in silence; many victims are getting compensated for damages caused by the opioid crisis, so should you. The best part of it all is you do not have anything to lose. At Morgan & Morgan, we understand how expensive it is to hire an attorney, especially for a claim of such magnitude. Even though we are the largest personal injury law firm in the country, our law firm is designed to fight for the rights of ordinary people like you. 

    This is the exact reason we provide our legal representation services on a contingency basis, meaning you do not owe us anything unless we win. All you have to do is fill out the case evaluation form on our website, and one of our representatives will reach out to you to discuss your claim within 24 hours. If it is established that you have a valid claim against the other party, we will instruct you on the next steps forward, which include assigning an experienced and aggressive personal injury attorney and paralegal to your case. Call us today at 877-483-4196 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. 

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