In July 2018, Lafayette County, Mississippi, together with 22 other counties in that state, joined the fray and filed lawsuits against the companies who manufacture and distribute opioid medications - accusing them of causing a large epidemic in the country and placing a huge financial burden on states, counties and municipalities which have to deal with the results of the opioid epidemic through such things as increased public health facility treatment demands, law enforcement costs in dealing with opioid-related crime and education programs related to opioid addiction.
The Mississippi counties’ legal representatives have filed the litigation in federal court where the cases will be consolidated with hundreds of other similar suits from around the country before federal judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, Ohio. These cases are being brought against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the narcotic painkillers, along with the primary national retailers and wholesale drug distributors of opioids. In these suits, it is being alleged that the companies employed massive advertising campaigns, which targeted millions of American consumers and their doctors, to conceal the high addiction risks of using opioids to treat chronic pain and that the opioid distributors also neglected their legal obligation to report excessive distribution of opioids to the DEA despite overwhelming evidence that such was and is occurring.
Opioids are frequently misused and inappropriately prescribed all across the U.S. because of this aggressive marketing campaign, according to the claims. In some states such as Ohio – a state of less than 12 million people, over 793 million doses are prescribed every year, and thousands of patients die of opiates overdose every year. Lawyers also allege that the distributors and retailers ignored many red flags indicating that the narcotics were diverted to unlawful uses, contributing to the widespread epidemic that is currently affecting the entire country.
According to the most current figures, in Mississippi the prescription rate has been as much as 120 prescriptions per 100 residents, namely more than one per citizen. Countless people have lost and continue to lose their lives due to prescription opioid-related overdoses. According to the suits, the Big Pharma companies have voluntarily misled consumers and their doctors by understating the risk of addiction associated with the use of these medications. In the attempt to stop or at least reduce the many fatalities, injuries and devastation caused by opiates every year, many state attorney generals around the country have taken action by joining in the legal battle, including in the states of Delaware, New York, West Virginia and Ohio.
Thousands of victims and their families have and are also joining in, by filing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies to receive financial compensation. The litigation costs might possibly force many drug makers to settle with some plaintiffs, actually increasing the size of the litigation itself by encouraging more claims to be filed. It is hoped that a global settlement is reached as soon as possible though, to stop the litigation and put an end to the overwhelming wave of improper opioid prescriptions that are currently flooding every hospital, nursing home and clinic in the United States.