March 26, 2018
Sadly, an estimated 150 people die from an opioid overdose every day in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 40,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2016, and the death rate continues to climb at an alarming rate. Parents, children, families, hospitals – and now even governmental agencies and attorneys general – are joining in the fight to stop this epidemic.
There are literally hundreds of lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, doctors, and politicians that are being held accountable for their alleged role in this country’s opioid epidemic. At the forefront of the pharmaceutical companies facing lawsuits is Purdue Pharma, the company that first marketed and distributed the opioid drug, Oxycontin.
Purdue Pharma is accused of misbranding the medication and misleading doctors, pharmacists, and patients about its addictive properties. The company first claimed that the drug had a less than one percent rate of addiction for patients treated by doctors. The company earned $35 billion from sales before they pled guilty to misbranding, and in 2007 agreed to correct their marketing plan to include information about the risk of addiction when using the medication.
An Ohio Attorney General is now claiming that the company continued its false advertising of Oxycontin through 2014. Investigations into claims of corruption have continued to uncover large sums of money being donated by pharmaceutical companies to attorney generals to influence their decisions to sue the drug manufacturing and distribution companies. As the yarn unravels surrounding the opioid epidemic, those affected by the deaths of loved ones are finding their voices as well.
A South Jersey mother that lost her son from an opioid overdose in 2011 has inspired officials from Camden County to join in her crusade to hold those responsible for the epidemic accountable. Camden County recently announced that they are filing a multitude of lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and even pharmacies such as Rite Aid and Walgreens. A spokesperson for Camden County said they are targeting all parties responsible for the epidemic, specifically those that lied about the drug’s addictive properties. They are also focusing on those retailers who continued to carelessly dispense opioids without informing the public about the dangers associated with pain medications like Oxycontin, Fentanyl, and Dilaudid. The county hopes to use compensation from the lawsuit to provide drug treatment to those addicted.
The mother at the forefront of the Camden County campaign claims that a simple toothache led to her son’s death. As she told CBS News, her son went to the dentist for treatment and was prescribed 30 pills of Vicodin. She claims that it was this prescription that introduced her son to the drug and led to his addiction. She hopes to change the way these medications are marketed and prescribed by physicians to prevent other families from suffering the same fate.
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