Purdue Pharma, one of the largest of the opioid manufacturers that has been struggling with massive multi litigation lawsuits, has filed for bankruptcy in a controversial agreement to settle the claim against it, worth 10 billion dollars.
Purdue claims that by going bankrupt, it allows the company to release its assets to help opioid victims. It also claims that it is establishing new company, NewCo, that will manufacture a drug, Naxolone, that reverses the symptoms of an overdose.
Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, manufactured an opioid drug that has been widely prescribed as a painkiller, OxyContin. Other opioid drugs that have been implicated in America’s opioid addiction crisis are oxycodone, from which drug OxyContin is a derivative, methadone and fentanyl. Fentanyl has now become the drug that is regarded as the most commonly used in drug overdoses.
Not everyone involved in litigating the drug manufacturer is convinced that it is acting in the interests of the people who have been allegedly harmed by its products. Adding to the cynicism is a report that the Sacklers have spirited away as much of their assets as they can through wire transfers. $20 million alone were transferred through 137 individual wire transfers over the last few years, while $40 million more have been injected into other companies that the family owns.
Purdue has been mounting a defense against its activities for the last few years. In May 2007, 3 of its CEOs and the company itself were charged with defrauding and misleading doctors and patients through is marketing of OxyContin as a safe and less addictive opioid alternative. The defendants agreed to pay nearly $635 million in civil and criminal fines.
The opioid crisis has affected millions of Americans over the last decade, with an estimated 130 deaths every day from overuse of one drug or another. Initially, opioids are prescribed for pain relief, something they certainly do very well, but the fact that they are extremely addictive has been consistently downplayed by drug manufacturers like Purdue Pharma. It is estimated on average it takes 32 months from the time that an individual patient is first prescribed with an opioid to a horrible death. According to a report by the National Safety Council earlier this year, the chance of dying from opioid overdose is greater than the chance of dying in a vehicle accident.
Multilitigation lawsuits active against opioid manufacturers
There are currently in excess of 2,000 lawsuits filed against opioid manufacturers including Purdue. The lawsuits have been filed by state, county, municipality and Native American organizations. The main complaint is that the manufacturers have known for many years that their drugs are particularly addictive yet have marketed them aggressively while underplaying their addictiveness.
In addition to the drug manufacturers, there are other parties who bear responsibility for the opioid crisis. These include individual physicians who prescribe the drugs for pain. How much have they known about the addictiveness of the drugs they prescribed and, in many cases, still prescribing? Health insurance providers like to keep costs down and, in many cases, prescribing opioids fits the bill, as they are a cheaper option than taking a multidisciplinary approach to managing pain.
The first successful lawsuit against a drug manufacturer was achieved this year in Oklahoma. On August 26th, a judge awarded a total of $572 million against Johnson & Johnson in compensation for the effects of drug manufacture and distribution that has contributed to what has been called an “opioid epidemic” in Oklahoma. Another drug manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, had already settled out of court with the state’s Attorney general for a sum of $85 million. It may have been these cases that were the last straw as far as Purdue Pharma was concerned.
There is some hope that the opioid crisis may have peaked. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released data in July this year which showed that there was 5.1% drop in overdose figures during 2018. If there is a silver lining amongst the dark clouds of the opioid crisis it is that a determined legal action can take on and win against powerful vested interests that have been proven to have had more interest in lining their own pockets rather than addressing the misery they have helped create.
If you, or a family member, have suffered in any way because of prescribed opioid use, you should not hesitate to call experienced and determined opioid litigation attorney Keith Williams in Nashville. You can call the office to arrange an appointment to discuss your case at (615) 313-3999.