Opioid prescriptions have nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years, spurring the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history. Adults aren’t the only ones who have fallen victim to the opioid crisis. As record numbers of women become dependent on prescribed painkillers, increasing numbers of babies are exposed to the drugs in utero, putting them at risk for developing painful and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Many are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which causes sweating, vomiting, appetite loss and even convulsions.
If there’s anything more tragic than the opioid epidemic that has ravaged this country, it’s the opioid-dependent babies who are suffering as a result. By recent estimates, an opioid-addicted baby is born in the U.S. every 19 minutes. That’s more than 70 newborns facing drug withdrawal symptoms and potential developmental problems every day. Who is to blame for this heart wrenching suffering among our youngest and most vulnerable citizens?
Many lay the responsibility on drug makers and distributers, who knowingly downplayed the risk of physical dependency on opioid painkillers. Some pharmaceutical manufactures have already been punished for deceptive and illegal marketing practices of medications like OxyContin, which like other opiates, can be a gateway for heroin. Dozens have already filed an opioid lawsuit seeking money damages to help care for their babies, who are tormented by withdrawal symptoms that can last months.
In a recent opioid lawsuit brought in Louisiana, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma are accused of intentionally misleading consumers about the high risk of opioid addiction and advising the medical community that the drugs were safe for the long-term treatment of chronic pain. The plaintiff became addicted to opioid painkillers she was prescribed after a rear-end accident and continued to take the drugs through pregnancy. Her child, now a 3-year old toddler, was born with NAS and has undergone intensive behavioral, speech and hearing therapy to mitigate the effects of his prenatal opioid exposure.
Louisiana personal injury lawyer Bart Bernard understands the far-reaching ramifications of deceptive drug marketing and opioid over-prescriptions by unwitting or reckless physicians. If your child has suffered detrimental effects of opioid exposure in the womb, we encourage you to explore your legal options for financial restitution. A successful claim will not only hold negligent drug makers accountable for their actions, it can provide the economic means to pay for long-term treatment costs for your child.
There is vast information regarding the repercussions of opioid-abuse in adults, but comparatively little is known about the long-term impact on opioid withdrawal in infants. The symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) may begin just hours after birth or develop over the following days. The hallmark symptoms often include:
The long-term impact of NAS is not fully yet understood, but anecdotal evidence and preliminary research indicates the condition can lead to:
Babies who are born to opioid-addicted mothers may be given morphine drops, sedatives or methadone to sooth and stop the symptoms of NAS.
Numerous residents in Louisiana can speak to the horrific effects of opioid addiction, after watching it destroy the lives of family members, friends and loved ones. The crisis has impinged on the health and wellbeing of thousands upon thousands of infants throughout the United States, triggering an onslaught of litigation against drug makers. Some of the claims are proposed class actions that are seeking a court-administered fund that would provide money for opioid-addicted babies and their treatment needs throughout life. According to doctors at Stanford Children’s Health, prenatal exposure to opiate painkillers can also lead to a higher risk of birth defects.
Complaints have been filed against the distributers, manufacturers and retailers of opioid medications such as Percocet, Oxycodone, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, and Hydrocodone, among others. More than 20 pharmaceutical companies and businesses are currently facing litigation concerning the opioid epidemic, and many of these federal cases have been transferred to opioid litigation MDL in Ohio federal court.
More than 400 opioid lawsuits containing similar allegations are presiding before Judge Dan Aaron Polster in the Northern District of Ohio. In theory, consolidating claims as multidistrict litigation (MDL 2804) will reduce costs and improve efficiency, but opioid litigation is exceedingly complex with numerous defendants and a diverse group of plaintiffs, including American cities and Native American communities hit hard by the epidemic. The honorable Judge Polster has informed both sides to prepare for rapid settlement negotiations, an unconventional approach in this type of mass tort.
Plaintiffs in these cases argue that makers of prescription opioids misrepresented the addiction risks of long-term use and distributors failed to screen suspicious orders of these painkillers, contributing to America’s opioid crisis.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers have a duty to warn the public and the medical community about the possibility of drug side effects, risks and the potential for addiction. Big Pharma stands accused of fueling a deadly opioid epidemic, utilizing deceptive marketing practices to peddle their drugs to millions of Americans.
Some of the opioid manufacturers facing litigation include:
If your child was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or you believe you have grounds for taking legal action against opioid manufacturers, contact Louisiana injury attorney Bart Bernard for a complimentary case review. As a champion of consumer rights, Bart has decades of experience successfully handling class actions, mass torts and complex pharmaceutical litigation.
Schedule a confidential opioid lawsuit review in our Lafayette or Baton Rouge offices today.
Last modified: June 22, 2018