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Mounting Lawsuits Against Opioid Industry Illustrate Power of Civil Justice System

Mounting Lawsuits Against Opioid Industry Illustrate Power of Civil Justice System

PillsPrescription medications are fueling an opioid addiction crisis that has reached epidemic proportions. Across the nation, drug overdoses kill more than 90 Americans each day, and in 2014, there were more fatalities due to drug overdoses than any year on record. This rise in addiction and death can be directly correlated to a rise in prescriptions for painkillers, which have nearly quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999.

Despite the alarming statistics, pharmaceutical companies continue to aggressively push their highly addictive narcotics onto the market. Equipped with extensive resources and immensely powerful lobbies, these corporations flood our politics and health care with money in order to make prescription painkillers more accessible and widely used. While prioritizing profits over people is often part and parcel for Big Business, the countless lives and livelihoods lost to opioid addiction, with no apparent end in sight, has prompted communities to take action.

Over the past year, there have been at least 25 cities, counties, and states that have filed civil lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, and large retailers that comprise the $13+ billion/year opioid industry. The most recent lawsuits against the industry include those filed by the attorneys general for Oklahoma, Ohio, and Missouri. Numerous other states and local municipalities are also considering legal action, and some are actively interviewing law firms for help.

These legal actions are steeped in legal and social significance, and they mirror efforts and civil actions taken against major tobacco companies in the 1990s. As with tobacco, opioids are killing Americans and creating additional costs and concerns for the public, including those related to law enforcement, mass incarceration, health care, and more. Although less tangible, their effect on the lives of individuals and families is profound.

Our legal team at Biren Law Group firmly believes in the power of America’s civil justice system and its ability to correct injustices and abuses. Over the years, we have advocated on behalf of the injured and the wronged to not only ensure they receive justice and compensation for their losses, but to also make it clear that negligent and wrongful conduct should never be tolerated. Through our successes in making our clients’ voices heard, especially in cases involving product liability, we have harnessed the power of the civil justice system as a vehicle for enacting change and setting standards that protect the public.

Just as we have done and continue to do for our clients, these legal actions against drugmakers and the opioid industry can succeed not only in raising awareness about a devastating opioid epidemic, but also beginning the process of creating real solutions to a complex and devastating problem. These cases will not be easy, as pharmaceutical companies and corporations in the opioid industry are looming forces likely to wage considerable legal battles. But because they have made it clear profits take precedence over people, change will only come when they are compelled to do so by law and civil judgments or settlements. Advocates have already earned one victory when the DC Court of Appeals recently rejected arguments from a drug distributor that would have made is difficult to hold companies accountable for pain pills diverted to the black market.

It bears reminding that drugmakers are only part of the opioid drug crisis. There are many other contributing factors, including the inappropriate prescribing practices of medical professionals and health care providers, which can harm patients themselves and lead to the diversion of drugs onto the black market. Irresponsible prescribing is continually being addressed through increased regulation and enforcement, including a new California law that will require doctors to use a Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) Database to review a patient’s medical history prior to prescribing certain drugs. Still, health care professionals have a legal duty to treat patients in accordance to an acceptable standard of care, and to take reasonable measures in reducing risks of preventable harm. With mounting lawsuits targeting multiple areas of the opioid industry, doctors and health care providers have also begun to see increasing medical malpractice lawsuits over negligent prescription.

Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Biren Law Group use the civil justice system to help injured victims and their families secure the justice and compensation they deserve after being harmed due to negligence. If you have questions regarding your rights following a preventable injury and what we can do to help you navigate the personal injury claim process, we encourage you to speak with a member of our team during a free consultation. Contact us today to request yours.

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