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Posts in Opioids

Opioids

Opioid Epidemic Revealed: 76 Billion Pills, 130 Deaths a Day

July 25, 2019 Opioids 0 Comments

close up of a group of white tablets with an out of focus prescription bottle in the background

Two years ago, opioids accounted for two-thirds of the 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States. More than 130 people died from opioid abuse each day, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data.

Thirty-six percent of opioid deaths involved prescription drugs like buprenorphine, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.

While more than 100,000 Americans died from an opioid painkiller overdose, manufacturers were busy increasing distribution by over 50 percent, pumping an additional 8.4 billion hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into commercial pharmacies. Newly released federal data analyzing the nation’s peak addiction crisis from 2006 to 2012 revealed that a total of 76 billion pills were distributed during this time period.

The distribution data is a key element of more than 2,000 lawsuits filed by state, local, and tribal governments looking to hold drug companies accountable for a largely preventable crisis that has spiraled out-of-control.

Drugmakers Role Put Into the Spotlight

“There’s been massive overprescribing, overconsumption of opioids in the United States,” explained Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Doctors have found themselves in the crossfire for years, but Dr. Kolodny told CNN the recently released data places the spotlight on the role distributors, retailers, and drugmakers have had in the crisis.

Roughly half the pills distributed from 2006 to 2012 were distributed by McKesson (14.1 billion), Walgreens (12.6 billion), and Cardinal Health (10.7 billion). More than two-thirds were manufactured by Actavis Pharma (26.5 billion) and SpecGx (28.9 billion). Purdue Pharma received a $635 million federal fine in 2007 for falsely claiming OxyContin was less addictive than other opioids, but their 2.5 billion pills accounted for just 3.3% of the overall market share.

Scott Higham, an investigator with the Washington Post, says the data confirms some of what we already knew – that West Virginia is the epicenter of the crisis. However, they were surprised to see the level of saturation in places like Nevada, Tennessee, South Carolina. “This is an epidemic that… knows no bounds, and it has just spread everywhere,” he explains.

Most tellingly, millions of drugs were being pumped into very small communities, where only two or three thousand people reside.

In rural Mingo County, West Virginia, pharmacies distributed 203 pills-per-person each year. Nearly every family has been affected by the opioid crisis in some way. They’ve lost high school friends, coworkers, neighbors, parents, and children.

Many doctors were misled by aggressive marketing tactics and false reassurance from pharmaceutical companies. Time and time again, drug-makers turned a blind eye to “suspicious activity” that led to the rise of pill mills and drug diversion. Now two dozen drug companies are faced with thousands of lawsuits, consolidated in the U.S. District Court of Cleveland.

First Opioid Trial Scheduled for October

While the nation grapples with questions of “how we got here,” the courts take on the monumental task of determining how far liability should extend and how similar suits should proceed. Attorneys from across the country are testing their legal strategies in Oklahoma, where a trial is expected to last for most of the summer. The central argument is that Teva Pharmaceuticals and Janssen violated the state’s public nuisance law by creating a substantial health harm in small communities. So far, the testimony has focused on manufacturers’ role in getting patients hooked on opioids through aggressive and often misleading marketing.

Purdue Pharma settled with the state for $270 million in March. Teva Pharmaceuticals settled for $85 million in June. Janssen continued on as the sole defendant, with parent company Johnson & Johnson losing a plea to drop the lawsuit this month. Larger federal litigation involving 1,900 lawsuits is scheduled for October.

Babies Born Addicted to Opioids

Part of the epidemic includes women who became addicted to opioids before becoming pregnant or while pregnant, and whose children, as a result, were born addicted. If your child was born addicted to prescription opioids, contact personal injury lawyer Bart Bernard for a free consultation.

No money is necessary upfront to pursue compensation through civil courts. You only pay for representation if you win your case and recover monetary damages. Call today to see if you qualify to file an opioid lawsuit.

Additional resources:


Opioid Deaths Surpass Road Accident Fatalities

January 24, 2019 Opioids 0 Comments

Premature newborn baby girl in the hospital incubator after c-section in 33 weekThe chance of dying from an accidental opioid overdose in the United States is now higher than dying in a car accident, according to a mid-January report from the National Safety Council.

Deaths from Preventable Accidents Have Increased 96% Since 1992

The opioid crisis has hit a new high. Currently, over 32,000 fatalities in car accidents occur per year – a rate that is more than 100% higher than the average of other countries with relatively high incomes. Car accidents are already at very high levels, in other words, and for opioid overdoses to have surpassed them illustrates how much it is ravaging the country.

Approximately 70,000 people died from overdoses in 2017. In the four years leading up to 2017, deaths from overdoses rose in 35 states and Washington, D.C. Large increases in deaths from opioids were reported in 15 states.

A person’s odds from dying of an opioid overdose are now higher than the risk of dying from falls, pedestrian accidents, drowning, and fire.

Deaths from preventable injuries, a category that includes both opioid overdoses and car accidents, hit nearly 170,000 in 2017, a more than 5% rise from 2016 levels. More shockingly, this is an increase of nearly 96% from the number registered in 1992.

Life Expectancy Declining

Unintentional injury is in fact now the leading cause of death in the U.S. among people 1 to 44 years old. In 2016, 61,000 died from unintentional injury, and the top two categories are deaths from car accidents and unintentional poisonings, of which opioid deaths are a part. That’s more fatalities than are caused by cancer or heart disease.

A rising number of victims, unfortunately, are children and teenagers.

The extent of the opioid crisis, and drug overdoses overall, have led to a decline in overall life expectancy.

Unborn children are affected as well. The opioid crisis has led to a syndrome that affects babies, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). It occurs when babies have been exposed to opioids in their mother’s wombs, and then go through withdrawal when they are born. The symptoms include seizures, fevers, convulsions, poor feeding, and diarrhea or vomiting.

Get it Done Right™ with Bart Bernard

If you need legal advice on either car accidents or opioid addiction in newborns, the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers can help. We have decades of experience in Louisiana car accident law. We also fight for justice for babies who have been born addicted to opioids.

Bart Bernard has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Get it Done Right™. We are seasoned professionals who offer a free initial consultation. Call today for a free case review!

Additional Resources:

  1. Flower, Kevin and Meera Senthilingam. Odds of dying from accidental opioid overdose in the US surpass those of dying in car accident. CNN. January 14, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/14/health/opioid-deaths-united-states-surpass-road-accidents/index.html
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/motor-vehicle-safety/index.html.

How To Take Care of Babies Going Through Opioid Withdrawal

November 12, 2018 Opioids 0 Comments

Premature newborn baby girl in the hospital incubator after c-section in 33 weekAs the number of people addicted to opioids continues to rise dramatically both in Louisiana and across the nation, so does the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Babies whose mothers were either treated with opioids or who have become addicted to opioids are frequently born with NAS. It is estimated that somewhere in the range of 55%-94% of babies exposed to opioids in utero are born with the condition.

NAS can cause problems with breathing, fever, poor feeding, and tremors. It can also cause disabilities later in life if not treated.

“Eat, Sleep, Console” Is a New and Promising Treatment Method

Hospitals are developing new and improved ways of taking care of babies with NAS. The older method was to keep babies with NAS in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There, they were treated by doctors and nurses in a hospital environment focused on eliminating opioid dependence.  NICUs however, had no places for the babies’ mothers.

A newer method known as “Eat, Sleep, Console” has been pioneered by several hospitals to help keep mothers and babies together during this critical time. Rather than keeping babies under bright lights with monitors, the new method offers a quiet environment where mothers can breastfeed and touch their babies whenever they want. Schedules are determined by the babies’ needs rather than medical personnel; and maternal interaction is welcomed.

The new method has diminished the length of hospital stays for NAS babies  drastically. Under the NICU method, treatment averaged more than 22 days. Under the “Eat, Sleep, Console” method, hospital stays are reduced to six days on average.

A Louisiana Attorney for NAS and Opioid Addiction in Babies

Louisiana lawyer Bart Bernard is currently evaluating potential legal claims related to opioid addiction in babies and newborns. Opioid addiction is a serious problem that has grown due in part to the failure of drug manufacturers to warn parents, mothers-to-be, and their medical providers about the risks of addiction.

Was your child born with NAS or other challenges related to opioid addiction?  Tell us about your experience. Call today for a free legal consultation and Get it Done Right™ with Bart Bernard!

 Additional Resources:

  1. Gallegos, Alicia. “Caring for Babies With Opioid Withdrawal.” AAMC News. April 16, 2018. https://news.aamc.org/patient-care/article/caring-babies-opioid-withdrawal/
  2. SAMHSA. Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

What Should You Do If You’re Pregnant and Addicted to Opioids?

October 31, 2018 Opioids 0 Comments

Thoughtful pregnant woman looks out the windowDo you have questions about filing an opioid addiction lawsuit in Louisiana on behalf of your newborn child? Many people throughout the nation are being ravaged by opioid addiction. But it’s even worse if you are pregnant and addicted to opioids.

Why? Because opioid addition can cause multiple health and behavioral problems for your baby. Your baby may be born with a syndrome called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which causes both health and behavioral issues. Your baby may be born prematurely, which can also lead to health complications.

Don’t Go Off Opioids During Pregnancy If You’re Addicted

So what should you do if you’re pregnant and addicted to opioids? You might think quitting is the best choice. Don’t, without talking to your doctor or another health care provider. Going “cold turkey” (as quitting abruptly is commonly called) could cause even more problems for the developing fetus, which might be forced to endure withdrawal symptoms in the womb.

So what should you do? The first step is talking to a qualified health care provider.

Therapies

The providers may recommend therapies. There are two predominant therapies for addicted people. One is called medication-assisted therapy (MAT) and one is known as opioid-assisted therapy (OAT).

The drugs you are prescribed could be methadone, buprenorphine, or naloxone. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the dosage you need and tell you how to use it.

Counseling

Another step if you’re pregnant and addicted is counseling. Your health care provider may recommend individual or group drug counseling, or both.

Counseling can help you develop skills to overcome the desire to take drugs and help you learn how to manage pregnancy. It can also provide strategies for eliminating situations in which you will be more prone to take drugs.

Consult Attorney Bart Bernard About Filing an Opioid Addiction Lawsuit

Opioid addiction can occur as a result of opioid manufactures not warning mothers, mothers-to-be and their doctors about the risks of addiction. Bart Bernard is an experienced Louisiana attorney who has assisted opioid-addicted mothers and their families whose children have been born with NAS or other difficulties related to addition.

At the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers, we will handle your situation with care and concern, and will fight tenaciously to get you maximum compensation for the harm suffered by you and your child. Our initial consultation regarding your case is free and we have two offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette for your convenience. Talk to Bart to see if you are eligible to file an opioid addiction lawsuit. “Click Bart First, Call Bart First™”!

Additional Resources:

  1. March of Dimes. Prescription opioids during pregnancy. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/prescription-opioids-during-pregnancy.aspx
  2. SAMHSA. Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

Opioid Addicted Babies: What Are the Long-Term Effects?

July 27, 2018 Opioids 0 Comments

Premature newborn baby girl in the hospital incubator after c-section in 33 weekIt’s believed that a baby addicted to opioids is born roughly every 19 minutes in the United States. In other words, 70 newborn babies are born addicted to opioids every day.

Babies become addicted to opioids when their mothers have used the drugs during pregnancy. They become addicted in the womb. When they are born, the supply of opioids abruptly cuts off, causing drug withdrawal.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Is on the Rise

The withdrawal can cause the babies to develop a condition known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). In the period right after birth, the babies can experience fever, vomiting, sweating, loss of appetite, tremors, mottled skin, dehydration, diarrhea, and convulsions. They may also cry continually and have marked difficulty in sleeping.

Long-Term Effects Can Affect Growth and Behavior

Sadly, NAS symptoms can be very long-lasting. While research is still being done to understand the longer-term effects of opioid addiction as the children born with it grow older, it does appear to exert impacts that can be detrimental to both physical development and behavior later on.

Children born addicted to opioids can experience delays in developmental growth and behavioral problems. They may also develop attention-deficit disorder (ADD) at a higher rate than children in the general population.

The children may need years of behavioral and other therapy as a result.

A Growing Epidemic

The long-term effects are a tremendous concern because opioid addiction has risen so fast across the U.S. Over the last two decades, prescriptions for opioids quadrupled. Addiction to opioids has become an epidemic.

Many observers believe that the epidemic was fueled by drug manufacturers, who for years said that the risk of patients developing a physical dependence on opioids, initially prescribed for pain, was minimal.

In fact, claims were recently brought in Louisiana courts against some of these manufacturers. Plaintiffs allege that Johnson & Johnson, its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Purdue Pharma intentionally misled consumers about the real risks of developing an addiction to opioids and told doctors that long-term use of the drugs were safe.

Does Your Child Suffer from Opioid Addiction?

Unfortunately, many Louisiana residents suffer from opioid addiction. If your child suffers from the effects of opioid addiction, call Bart Bernard today.

Bart Bernard will treat your case with the care and concern it deserves. Our law firm has the knowhow and resources to take on the big pharmaceutical companies.

Our first consultation regarding your case is complimentary. You can call whichever of our two Louisiana offices are most convenient for you: 337-989-BART (Lafayette) or 225-275-BART (Baton Rouge). You can also contact Bart online today.

Additional Resources:

  1. Adamson, Allan. “Lawsuit Seeks Money To Cover Treatment Of Babies Born Addicted To Opioids.” Tech Times. February 28, 2017. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/222035/20180228/lawsuit-seeks-money-to-cover-treatment-of-babies-born-addicted-to-opioids.htm
  2. Clark, Maria. “The family of a Louisiana infant born addicted to opioids is suing drug makers.” New Orleans Times-Picayune. February 27, 2018. http://www.nola.com/health/index.ssf/2018/02/lawsuit_filed_to_help_cover_he.html

Opioid Addiction Epidemic Continues to Cause Collateral Damage

June 22, 2018 Opioids 0 Comments

Premature newborn baby girl in the hospital incubator after c-section in 33 weekPerhaps the greatest tragedy of the nation’s current opioid crisis is that prescription painkiller addiction harms not only the individuals who have become physically dependent upon those drugs, but also their families whose lives have been upended by opioid overdoses and deaths.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is working tirelessly to recover monetary compensation for the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis: babies born addicted to the painkillers.

Scope and Origins of the Opioid Overdose Crisis

In the late 1990’s, the big pharmaceutical companies, including Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Allergan, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, launched aggressive marketing campaigns that touted the benefits of opioid painkillers while downplaying or ignoring known addiction risks. In turn, physicians began to freely prescribe both natural and synthetic opioids, including Percocet, Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone with few or no warnings to their patients of any addiction or overdose risks.

The consequences of these practices have been staggering:

  • Almost a third of all patients that have received opioid prescriptions have misused those drugs, and roughly 10% have developed addictions or other opioid use disorders.
  • About 5% of prescription opioid recipients have started using heroin.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, opioid overdoses increased by 30%.
  • On average, 115 people in the United States die every day as a result of an opioid overdose.

Collateral Damage from the Opioid Overdose Crisis

Immediate family members frequently experience adverse collateral effects of a loved one’s opioid addiction. The most tragic effects of that addiction affect family members that are least able to handle the ravages of addiction, namely, unborn children and babies.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported a fivefold increase in incidents of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) between 2000 and 2012. NAS afflicts infants that have been exposed to opioids during their mothers’ pregnancies. Infants that are born with NAS will experience tremors, gastric disorders, fevers, and seizures during the first few weeks or months after they are born. These symptoms are similar to what an opioid addict might experience while going through withdrawal.

Recovering Compensation for Opioid Overdoses and Deaths

Lawmakers are acknowledging that certain opioid manufacturers, medical clinics, and practitioners developed and implemented a deceptive marketing scheme that exaggerated the relief that opioids could offer to individuals who were suffering from debilitating pain. The marketing of opioid painkillers gave little thought to the physical dependency, addiction, and overdose risks that are inherent in those drugs. Following the lawmakers’ lead, court systems are entertaining a growing chorus of lawsuits alleging that pharmaceutical companies are liable for direct and collateral damages as a result of their false, negligent, and unfair marketing practices associated with prescription opioid drugs.

Was Your Child Born Addicted to Opioids? Call Bart Bernard

Bart Bernard represents families in Lafayette, Kenner, Baton Rouge, and elsewhere in Louisiana with infants diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome due to opioid addiction. Has your infant child become a victim of the opioid crisis? Please call today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

Additional Opioid Epidemic Resources:

  1. DrugAbuse.gov, Opioid Overdose Crisis. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
  2. Democrat & Chronicle, May is deadliest month so far: 31 days, 104 overdoses, 16 deaths, https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2018/06/08/monroe-county-overdose-deaths-may-2018-year-total/685418002/
  3. CBSNews.com, Opioid addiction in U.S.: 7 in 10 say it’s a very serious problem – CBS News poll, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/opioid-addiction-in-u-s-7-in-10-say-its-a-very-serious-problem-cbs-news-poll/
  4. DrugAbuse.gov, Treating Opioid Use Disorder During Pregnancy. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/treating-opioid-use-disorder-during-pregnancy/treating-opioid-use-disorder-during-pregnancy