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​Cities Band Together to Take On Big Pharma Over The Opioid Crisis

In recent years, rural areas of the United States have been ravaged by the use of opioids in their communities. Recent studies show that throughout the course of a decade, opioid usage has increased by over 2 percent among U.S. adults. These studies also indicate the change was largely driven by an increase in the long-term use and subsequent abuse of prescription opioids.

Obviously, this has become cause for concern and has serious ramifications for many communities throughout the country.

"Long-term use of opioids is associated with worse physical health, a higher incidence of benzodiazepine use, and higher rates of heroin use," write the addiction recovery specialists at The Recovery Village. "Therefore, the study concludes, it is essential that doctors carefully weigh the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use in their patients before prescribing it."

Because of the risks associated with long-term opioid use, the crisis has become a monumental public health concern, has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and has affected millions of individuals both personally, and also negatively impacts their communities.

In an effort to to seek reparations from pharmaceutical companies that they believe to be responsible for the crisis, a number of governments are pursuing legal recourse.

The ultimate goal of these kinds of lawsuits is to halt harmful distribution practices that are regularly employed by big pharma, but also to ensure that reparations are made to those whose families and communities have suffered the most.

"In these cases, the plaintiffs are seeking damages to cover the costs of services including, but not limited to: medical care and treatment for patients suffering from opioid-related addiction or disease; treatment of infants born with opioid-related medical conditions; costs associated with caring for children whose parents suffer from opioid addiction; and law enforcement and public safety services related to the opioid epidemic," Baron & Budd, one of the law firms representing these municipalities, expressed in a recent press release.

According to the plaintiffs in these cases, drug companies have taken to marketing and selling too many prescription drugs to patients without offering adequate and accurate information about the risks associated with prescription drug use. Based on their negligence, plaintiffs argue, thousands of Americans have become dependent on these medications, which have the potential to lead to heroin or harder versions of these prescription medications.

"Regardless of geography...their situation boils down to these drug distributors showing complete disregard for public safety in their never-ending quest for more money and more profits," Baron & Budd Shareholder, Burton LeBlanc continued in the same press release. "These municipalities have been stuck footing the bill for everything from neonatal intensive care treatment for babies who are born addicted to opioids to an unprecedented number of bodies that must be stored in local morgues. It's not right. And now we intend to hold these companies responsible for the disaster they have created."

What are the chances that these patients could see reparations? According to CityLab's Sarah Holder, the odds might be higher than one might think. The cities and municipalities pursuing these lawsuits are employing the same practices that were used to take on Big Tobacco in 1998. Twenty years ago, those efforts were successful, and as a result tobacco companies were ordered to pay out over $200 billion in settlements.

The plaintiffs are hoping to yield similar results in the years to come, and so far the results are promising. At least one state action has been successful. A lawsuit presented by West Virginia against Cardinal Health and Amerisourcebergen resulted in over $36 million in settlements. In addition to reparations, however, plaintiffs are hoping that this is the start to a better understanding for drug addiction and treatment, and that these predatory practices will be stopped.

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Opium is the opiate of the people now.

Posted by: ohrealy at January 26, 2018 8:14 AM
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Danikak, good article. President Trump has addressed the opioid epidemic as related in this url:

I noted where some 175 people a day are dying from opioids.

Heard recently that much of the mfctring is in China and that the US postal service is the major pipeline for such. We know the Chinese gov’t supports such operations and, one would think, the postal service could, in short order, cut the illegal pharma shipments drastically.

Secstate Tillerson should be on top of this problem. Haven’t heard anything from DOS on this.

Don’t understand why there are no pain killers on the market that doesn’t cause dependency. Maybe there are but, little or no money involved in their use.

But, I do believe the Trump admin will tap opioid use down pdq.

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