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.