Government Lawsuits Could Help in the Fight Against Opioid Epidemic
Opioid epidemic statistics point to an escalating problem. The American Society of Addiction Medicine revealed their opioid epidemic statistics for 2015 with over 52,000 drug overdose deaths reported – a statistic that increased to over 64,000 in 2016. The main drive behind the increase in deaths is opioid pain relievers, fentanyl being the biggest problem. Lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies could prove to be a useful tool in the battle against the opioid epidemic.
Increase in Government Lawsuits
2017 saw a large increase in the number of lawsuits against the distributing and manufacturing companies behind many of the opioids on the market. The lawsuits come from Native American tribes, local government, federal government and state government.
Thus far, the majority of personal injury claims have been unsuccessful due to the strong defense that pharmaceutical companies have. When faced with such a lawsuit, their defense team points to the users misusing opioids and doctors making mistakes with their prescriptions as the cause for each individual case.
Why Would Government Lawsuits Succeed Where Personal Claims Have Failed?
The patient and doctor blame that is apparent in many of the personal lawsuits cannot be the same defense in government lawsuits. Government has a different case that removes the doctor and patient defense. Their approach is to say that the opioid distributors and manufacturers have caused the debilitated state of the social system leading to the current opioid epidemic. Governments want manufacturers and distributors to help pay for the repair of the social system.
The way that the cases are made helps to avoid the problems that personal suits have. Previous public health lawsuits such as the ones seen against the firearms and tobacco companies have also helped to build a stronger case by avoiding the pitfalls.
Some of the cases created thus far claim Medicaid fraud and unjust enrichment by the companies involved. So far, the lawsuits in the opioid epidemic have yet to reach to massive payouts seen in the tobacco industry lawsuits. One of the biggest payouts so far was the $600 million payout with Purdue some years ago. Rebecca Haffajee from the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health believes that the lawsuits createdby local, state and federal governments have the best chance at getting the larger payouts needed to deal with the opioid epidemic.
Goals of the Lawsuits
So far, the opioid epidemic costs the country hundreds of billions each year, measured in the cost it has on society. Even with the massive spending, much more is needed, according to Haffajee. The payout of at least $206 billion over a 25 year period by the tobacco industry because of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is what is needed in the current opioid crisis. Such a large payout could make a real impact on dealing with the opioid crisis.
The money that government manages to get from the distributers and manufacturers of opioids would likely go to the areas that need it most, such as law enforcement, the foster care system and addiction treatment among other areas that are overstressed by the current trends.
While the government lawsuits attempt to get the large settlement needed, many other people are still involved with prescription opioid abuse. If you need to get professional help for prescription opioid abuse, give WhiteSands a call today on (877) 855-3470 to find out how they can assist.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.