HOW THE PRESCRIPTION OPIATE EPIDEMIC STARTED

HOW THE PRESCRIPTION OPIATE EPIDEMIC STARTED

In the late 1980s, when I was in medical school, I was taught, and correctly so, that opioids were addictive and dangerous pain relieving medications which should be used in very limited situations. I was taught that opiate pain relievers were only to be used for short-term treatment of severe acute pain like that experienced immediately following surgery or for long-term palliative (end-of-life) care in cancer patients. My respected medical school professors and fellow students did not question these ethical and wise standards. We all understood that prescription opiates carried the same risks of tolerance and adduction as heroin and other such street drugs. We wanted to effectively treat our patients’ pain but not turn them into addicts.

For a time, the manufacturers and distributors of prescription narcotic were satisfied with a constant income stream from their narcotics line of products. A few decades ago, these companies reconsidered the facts that opiates were inexpensive to manufacture, highly addictive, easy to market, and could be a source of huge profits. These companies then began a systematic and relentless campaign of advertising to healthcare providers, patients, and government officials.

To the healthcare providers, they provided new studies that proved that opiates were not as addictive as was once thought. They created new “long-acting” formulations and assured physicians that these new formulations actually deterred abuse and were completely safe for long term use in all adult patients. They sent representatives to physicians’ offices, held seminars, and funded biased and inaccurate studies to advance and support their bogus claims.

To the patients, they explained that if a physician does not provide complete pain relief, that physician is not practicing quality medicine. They created the notion that pain is the “fifth vital sign,” blanketed waiting rooms with posters showing pain being rated on scales from one to ten, and convinced patients to demand pain medications for every ailment.

To the governmental representatives, they sent lobbyists to promote the enactment of laws forcing physicians to prescribe pain medications, insurers to cover the costs of pain medications, and pharmacies to maintain large stocks of these medications on hand. They infiltrated the government oversight committees with their former executives and changed government policy and regulation so that new opiate formulations would be quickly approved.

The net result of the opiate campaign by manufacturers and distributors was to create an insatiable demand for their opiate products and record profits year after year. Once the prescribers were convinced that the government required pain to be treated aggressively, and the insurers were forced to pay for total pain relief, and the patients demanded the most potent narcotics, the epidemic became all but unavoidable.

The amount of social and financial damage caused by these opioid manufacturers and distributors is enormous. While the government, the medical community, and the patients seem unable to get any control over this epidemic, private law firms are getting involved and bringing civil suits against these pharmaceutical companies to hold them accountable for the harms they cause. The Law Firm of Fransen & Molinaro, LLP provides free consultations to potential clients for these types of lawsuits.

USING THE LEGAL TEAM APPROACH TO ATTACK BILLION DOLLAR OPIOID MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS

Aggressively, efficiently, and successfully litigating complex cases against companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars requires a legal team of experienced law firms with seasoned trial attorneys who also have the financial ability to advance the millions of dollars that will be needed. Fransen & Molinaro, LLP is working with a team of law firms that meet these criteria. One member of the team is the law firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty Proctor P.A. This firm has been handling mass tort, medical device, and pharmaceutical cases for decades. In 2004, Mike Papantonio helped launch a nationwide organization called Mass Torts Made Perfect. This organization holds annual conferences for the top personal injury attorneys and teaches them successful litigation strategies to use against multi-national corporations.

The team approach is well-suited to handle the representation of cities, counties, and states in litigation against billion-dollar international companies like Purdue Pharma, McKesson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Mallinckrodt, Janssen, Endo Health Solutions, Cephalon, Watson, Allergen, Johnson & Johnson, and others. The team will pool resources, work more efficiently, and replicate successful strategies. They know how to bring lawsuits designed to hold billion-dollar international companies responsible for the damages their opioids cause.

If you are a governmental official in California, Fransen & Molinaro, LLP wants to work with your city or county, or with the State of California to sue the corporations that have ruined countless lives and financially drained local governments. These corporations need to be held accountable.

THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC DRAINED STATE AND LOCAL BUDGETS… CAN WE GET THAT MONEY BACK?

The United States is suffering from a prescription opioid epidemic, the likes of which has never been seen before. In the late 1980s, when I was in medical school, I was correctly taught that opioids were addictive and dangerous pain relieving medications which should be used in very limited situations. I was taught that opiate pain relievers were only to be used for short-term treatment of severe acute pain like that experienced immediately following surgery or for long-term palliative (end-of-life) care in cancer patients. My respected medical school professors and fellow students did not question these ethical and wise standards.

Many people wrongly believe that those who suffer from opiate abuse and die from opiate overdoses are heroin addicts and abusers of other illegal street drugs. However, the truth is that the majority of opiate abusers are abusing prescription opiates. The prescription opiates causing the physical, economic, and social devastation are made by large scale pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributed by billion-dollar wholesalers, prescribed by licensed healthcare providers, and sold by pharmacies. The only true link to heroin and the current opiate epidemic is that most of today’s heroin users abused prescription opiates before turning to heroin.

Fransen & Molinaro, LLP will represent California counties and cities against opiate manufacturers and distributors and sue them to recover the money spent by these governmental entities fighting the opioid epidemic with its hundreds of millions of dollars in associated medical, criminal, and societal costs.