While the opioid crisis has made headlines across the country little has been done at a federal level that could truely make a dent in the nation-wide epidemic. And thus, the industry has widely ignored the issue, paying nominal fines along the way and placating consumers with statements about their willingness to address the issue.
The biggest victim of the opioid crisis, is of course, the patients who get addicted to these drugs. At the same time the crisis could seemingly turn a number of companies on their heads much in the way that big tobacco suits of the late 1990s forever changed the tobacco industry.
Drug companies have been asked to come to negotiating table to discuss potential settlement as 41 states have demanded documents over allegations for unfair sales practices, Medicaid fraud and creating a public nuisance, among other things. So far, not much has come of these suits, but that could change.
Ohio is ground zero, where ten people die every day from opioids leaving behind families and friends and creating holes in cities and towns in the Buckeye state that don’t heal easily. And there is a cost beyond the human. Children moved from addicted parents to foster care cost $45 million a year. Indeed, half the kids in foster care come from parents addicted to opioids. Counseling and medication costs $216 million a year. Treating kids who are born drug dependent adds another $130 million. Ohio estimates that work lost because of the opioid crisis, fatal overdoses, and medical expenses costs $4 billion a year. From 2011 to 2015 3.8 billion doses of opioid meds were prescribed in Ohio. The state only has 11.6 million residents. In 2016, it lost 4,050 of those residents to overdoses of opioids, heroin and fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid, according to Ohio’s own data.
*Davidson Bowie, PLLC represents the State of Ohio in the ongoing opioid litigation.*