The $500 billion toll of the opioid epidemic has hit local governments hard and they are using lawsuits to help stem the continuing damages.
Fueled by easy access to prescription drugs, the opioid epidemic has ballooned out of control over the past several years in the United States.
Local governments, faced with the increasing costs of the fallout from the epidemic, are turning to litigation. Not only are they seeking compensation, reports Detroit’s WXYZ, they also hope to spur drug makers and distributors into action to stop the crisis.
Costs of the opioid epidemic includes not only increased law enforcement and correctional facilities, but also increases the burden on other services, including:
- Mental health services
- Child welfare, including foster care for children whose parents are addicted
- Emergency health services
Several local governments have initiated litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors, including several counties in the Detroit area. The governments say that the point of the lawsuits is not to be awarded money, but to prompt drug makers to change procedures that are exacerbating the opioid epidemic.
Specifically, the lawsuits point to drug company procedures and policies that led to an abundance of highly addictive opioids available to the general population.
This includes allegations of marketing practices that fail to disclose the risk of addiction, as well as offering cheap, potent drugs in huge amounts to patients suffering from pain.
The wide availability of prescription medications for pain relief has been blamed for the mounting epidemic. Many of those now addicted to opioids or worse say that their problem began with prescription pain killers they received after an injury or for a medical condition. Doctors have been blamed for over-prescribing opioids, and users have been known to turn to cheaper, illegal, more dangerous drugs like heroin after getting hooked on the painkillers.
In addition to the litigation, other steps have been taken by local governments to combat the opioid epidemic.
Programs to get addicts into treatment, rather than sending them to correctional facilities, have become popular in many areas. These programs often depend on volunteers, as well as former addicts themselves, to get those struggling with opioid addictions into treatment.
Some jurisdictions offer a Drug Court option to those arrested on opioid related charges. In Drug Court, people are offered treatment, rather than jail time, as a first option to get their lives back together after addiction.
Experts note that combatting the opioid epidemic will take a multi-pronged approach; however, getting drug companies to consider the addictiveness, potency, and availability of their opiate drugs to avoid exacerbating the problem is an important step.
The attorneys at McDonald Worley are investigating claims related to the opioid epidemic.
If you or a loved one have been affected by opioid addiction, contact McDonald Worley today to find out your options and legal rights.