America’s opioid problem has been deemed a public health emergency due to the devastating loss of life associated with these potent pain medications.
In 2016, over 60,000 people died in the United States from drug overdoses—the majority of whom overdosed on opioids.
To put this number in perspective, that's more than all American casualties in the Vietnam War.
Governments Take Action Regarding The Opioid Epidemic
A number of different approaches are being used to address the opioid epidemic, including public education campaigns and improved access to substance abuse treatment. However, taking legal action against those who have negligently marketed and promoted dangerous prescription drugs is one approach with the potential to keep millions of innocent people from ever developing life-altering addictions. Lawsuits have been filed by city and state governments across the United States, much like how legal action was taken against big tobacco in the 1990s.
To fight the opioid epidemic in Louisiana, the City of Monroe is joining forces with Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team to take action against some of the major opioid manufacturers and distributors. The claim will argue negligent marketing and promotion of opioids created conditions ripe for addiction, including:
- Running a decades-long misinformation campaign to convince doctors that prescription opioids are a miracle cure for chronic pain and should be prescribed widely
- Marketing opioid pain medication to the public as safe and non-addictive despite research suggesting otherwise
- Sponsoring pain advocacy groups that are nothing more than a front for the drug company's message
- Using paid doctors as opinion leaders to spread the message that opioids should be widely used
- Neglecting to stress that addiction is possible even when patients use opioids exactly as prescribed, due to the development of tolerance and physical dependence
Although a monetary settlement or favorable trial verdict/judement cannot cure or bring back those who've been lost due to the horrors of opioid addiction, the funds could be used to defray some of the public expense associated with the opioid epidemic. This includes:
- Treatment and rehabilitation for affected individuals
- Increased law enforcement costs
- Healthcare costs associated with overdoses and opioid-related medical emergencies
- Care for children with parents who've become overwhelmed by opioid addiction
- Costs related to an uptick in heroin use, which often begins with patients becoming addicted to prescription opioids
Taking legal action also sends the message that government leaders will not stand by idly as their constituents suffer devastating harm due to the actions of reckless pharmaceutical companies.