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Opioid Distributor Liability

Soaring death rates and the rising costs of battling the opioid crisis in the U.S. force state and local governments to expend millions – perhaps billions – of dollars each year in public services. Drug manufacturers carry much of the blame, distributors that flood the marketplace with opioids must also be held accountable.

According to the Washington Post, our country’s prescription drug epidemic has resulted in almost 180,000 overdose deaths between 2000 and 2015. That’s three times the number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War. The opioid crisis has led to thousands more fatalities caused by overdoses of fentanyl and heroin and fentanyl, which have become cheaper and easier to get than prescription drugs.

States’ attorneys general – Democrats and Republicans alike – are suing drug manufacturers who reap tremendous profits from the $13 billion opioid industry while their highly addictive painkillers put communities in peril. But many local counties and municipalities are looking to outside law firms like Sommers Schwartz to file similar lawsuits against prescription drug distributors.

The Opioid Danger Is a Serious Public Health Crisis

Opioid painkillers with brand names like Fentanyl, OxyContin, Vicodin, Duragesic, Methadone, and Dilaudid are frequently overprescribed, exposing people to the very real risks of addiction, poisoning, overdose, and death.

There are a number of players in the pharmaceutical industry that have contributed to our country’s opioid epidemic. Manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma (maker of OxyContin), Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson produce and market prescription drugs downplayed their addictive qualities, much the same as tobacco companies who tried to hide the dangers of cigarettes from consumers and the public.

Insurance companies may also be culpable for widely approving benefits for opioids over safer, more expensive drugs necessary to treat chronic pain.

And doctors who knowingly or negligently place patients at risk for addiction and death may be subjected to medical malpractice actions.

How Are Drug Distributors Responsible for the Opioid Crisis?

AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson – three of the largest pharmaceutical distributors – must also be scrutinized for their involvement. Lawsuits across the U.S. accuse the drug distributors of failing to monitor, identify, and report suspicious activity, essentially helping to flood the marketplace with opioids rather than taking action to “abate the nuisance.”

As a result of distributors turning a blind eye, harmful opioid painkillers flowed into the black market, compounding the danger and placing the expense to battle the crisis squarely on the shoulders of state and local government. The lawsuits seek damages to assist in paying the costs to combat what has become a national emergency.

What Is Sommers Schwartz’s Role in the Litigation against Opioid Distributors?

Taking on Big Pharma is more than any one law firm can handle. The mass tort litigators at Sommers Schwartz are part of a nationwide consortium of lawyers that have joined together to pursue compensation from opioid distributors. Along with Baron & Budd, Levin Papantonio, and other law firms, our attorneys are collaborating on behalf of local governments to get them the financial resources they need to fight the crisis and provide necessary services to the public.

The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Commercial Litigation Group are currently discussing litigation options and strategies with state agencies, counties, and cities. If you are a government official on the front lines of this battle, please contact us today!

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