Every day we hear more and more about the opioid epidemic, whether it’s personal horror stories or lawsuits. In this article, we want to address two significant questions. What do these recent legal developments mean for victims of the opioid crisis and the epidemic itself?
The Opioid Epidemic in a Nutshell
The Center for Disease Control designates the opioid crisis as a national epidemic. Over the last 10 to 20 years, since the introduction of products or pharmaceuticals like OxyContin to the market in 1996, there has been a great deal of deception involved in the marketing of these drugs. This deception has resulted in everyone from soccer moms to recovering personal injury victims developing an addiction to opioids.
These drugs were originally manufactured for a few different types of pain. These include acute pain, meaning pain up to 3 months, and end-of-life pain that those with terminal illness experience. The issue started when the drugs were beginning to be marketed for chronic pain, which lasts more than three months. The manufacturers were aware of the addictive components, and they allowed and began to market the products even though they knew that a heavy addiction would occur. While there may have been a warning at some point on some (definitely not all) of the pharmaceuticals, they were not marketing how addictive they were. The drugs were fraudulently advertised to doctors and consumers and were pushed by Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). Pharmaceutical companies would hire and retain heavily compensated KOLs. The pharmaceutical companies even put on conferences, conducted continuing medical education seminars, and held events to promote the ethics and safety of the drugs for use for chronic pain. This was despite the literature clearly identifying the risk of addiction.
Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson: Not the Answer You Might Think
As you might know, Purdue Pharma is one amongst a multitude of manufacturers of various opioid medications, that have engaged in fraudulent and deceptive practices. Reportedly, the Sackler family may give up Purdue Pharma ownership and payout $3 billion, if the terms of a settlement proposal are accepted. The crux of the litigation is premised on fraudulent advertising, deceptive marketing, illegal trade practices, as well as your garden-variety product liability failure to warn claimants. Additionally, the ongoing primary litigation has been on behalf of city-states and various municipalities for the cost that they have incurred principally from funding insurance programs for these various addictions.
The recent settlement offer by the Sackler Family is both disingenuous and fictional. For starters, the idea that they may give up ownership is a misnomer because they are being criminally indicted and would have no opportunity to run their own business. The fact that they are putting up their own money, with the publically held company that they own $3 billion worth of stock of, is further evidence of the fraud that they have committed from an ongoing perspective for years now.
On the other hand, the recent $572 million verdict against Johnson and Johnson was a step, but still not the answer. One would expect that type of verdict for an individual, and not a municipality. Individuals are the ones who have been affected, sabotaged, misled, mistreated, and abused by the fraudulent and deceptive marketing, advertising, and sales practices of these entities. It is a crisis that is not going away and is, one could argue, virtually unsolvable because pain doesn’t cease to exist. The alternatives for the use of opioids as chronic pain medication for many people come too little too late. Opioid victims are already addicted, they’ve already lost their lives, their families, and their leg up on life. Often times, these people were once successful individuals. We represent, for example, a former chief executive officer of a hospital that was involved in an automobile accident. He became hooked on hydrocodone and ultimately lost everything. You’ll find that many victims are everyday joes that were involved in an incident, suffered a personal injury, and only then did they begin to have their lives altered. Why? Doctors were prescribing medications that they were told were perfectly safe for chronic pain.
Accountability and Moving Forward
The opioid crisis sits on a foundation of fraud and deceptiveness. We believe each of these entities will ultimately pay the price financially, but it will never rectify the heartache and overall destruction of peoples’ lives. The best that can we can hope for is that these survivors receive compensation in such a fashion that the message to the pharmaceutical industry is clear. Opioid victims deserve appropriate compensation so they can get the help they need to learn to live their lives in a more effective fashion and become fruitful members of society again. If you have experienced opioid addiction, it is crucial that you hire an attorney who has seen cases similar to yours and are ready to fight for you. Daniel & Associates have the skills to represent your case and see it through to a favorable outcome, so contact us today.