When a company puts consumers in danger, the legal process is often the only method we have to hold them responsible. Take Takata, the now defunct airbag manufacturing giant, for example. They were forced to recall tens of millions of airbags, but it didn’t end there. They were also on the hook for a $650 million settlement. If you cut corners or endanger lives, our justice system allows us to force reparations.
We’re in the middle of a nationwide opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. We are losing people daily to prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Should we hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable? The officials from Hillsborough and around 1,000 other city and county governments across the country will try.
Hillsborough Opioid Lawsuit
Hillsborough County officials have joined in a unified front against drug makers and distributors. The county recently sued 14 opioid manufacturers and distributors. Some companies included in the suit are:
- Purdue Pharma, known for making OxyContin and Dilaudid
Lawyers representing the county compared the lawsuit to the BP oil spill in 2010. If BP had to clean up the oil spill, drug companies should have to clean up the opioid epidemic.
The complaint filed by the county claims that drug manufacturers, like Purdue Pharma, helped the crisis in our country begin. Tactics like pushy marketing, trumped up benefits, and a lack of disclosure regarding the inherent danger present in these drugs are to blame, according to the county.
Distributors are also blamed for the crisis killing Americans. Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens let drugs spill out into the streets and turned a blind eye to suspicious orders, the lawsuit alleges. Some drug stores in Hillsborough took in opioids between 50 and 70 times the average amount for Florida stores. If that didn’t raise alarm bells, I don’t know what would.
Officials say they want to use the money to fund drug treatment centers, drug courts, and foster care programs for children separated from their opioid-addicted parents. The crisis in our country is costing us billions of dollars per year and the lawsuit funds could help stop that figure from rising. Funds could also be used for better education on the dangers of opioids. The goal is to help current addicts and to stop new ones from forming.
Three Waves of Overdose and Addiction
The CDC recognizes the rise of the opioid epidemic in three distinct waves:
- Wave 1: 1990s. Abundant marketing of prescription opioids like OxyContin led to a rise of overdose deaths from prescription opioids.
- Wave 2: 2010 onward. As the crisis snowballed and received national attention, distributors and medical providers cracked down on prescription opioids. This caused prices to rise and made access scarce. Addicts had to find new methods. This is when rapid increases in heroin overdoses began to occur.
- Wave 3: 2013 onward. The market became flooded with synthetic opioids. Synthetics like fentanyl are illicitly produced overseas and shipped across the globe for rock bottom prices. Opioid overdose deaths skyrocketed like never before.
And things aren’t getting better. We’re filling our prisons, draining our tax dollars, and losing lives on a massive scale. We’ve known about the unethical tactics used by drug manufacturers for years. In 2007, an affiliate company of Purdue Pharma was forced to pay $634 million for misleading marketing. The marketing for OxyContin claimed that it wasn’t as addictive as competitors and had less potential for abuse. Both claims were proven false.
If things aren’t getting better, then something must be done. While the lawsuit in Hillsborough is still in its infancy, cities and counties across the country are all fighting for reparations. This epidemic has gone on long enough and has stolen far too many lives. Only time can tell what will come of it.
Contact Brooks Law Group
In my years of practice, I’ve seen many cases where large manufacturers ignored the damage they caused for the sake of extra revenue. If this is a situation you’ve found yourself in, contact Brooks Law Group for a free consultation today. Our attorneys and staff will fight for the compensation you deserve, and you won’t owe us anything unless money is received. You can fill out an online form on our website or call our offices at (800) LAW-3030. Come to a firm you can trust for the money you deserve.