This week has seen lawsuits filed by Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas against the several pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, distributors, and at least one provider over the damages realized through increased opioid addictions.
Opioid use on an epidemic level over the past decade
The cities filed the complaints on Thursday, 22nd August 2019 in the Clark County District Court. In the complaints, the cities pointed out that the opioid use had reached epidemic levels over the past 10 years and that the US was consuming over 80% world’s opioid.
They continued to point out that since 1999, the amounts of prescribed opioids had quadrupled in the US and that in 2010 there were 254 million prescriptions filled in the States.
Still, on their complaint, they cited that by 2014, the number of people that were dependent on opioid use and those that abused it was nearly two million. March 22nd, 2016, saw the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) declare the substance abuse as a ‘public health crisis’ and recognize its impact on people, families, and communities.
They also noted that according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control), from 2000 to 2015, there were more than 500,000 people who died as a result of opioid overdoses including the prescription ones and heroin
Data from the CDC showed that there were 175 deaths in America daily as a result of opioid overdose (prescription and heroin). The complaint stated that those who found painkillers costly or hard to obtain had turned to heroin and cited statistics from American Society of Addiction Medicine which showed that four (4) in five (5) people who used heroin started with prescription painkillers.
In the complaint, they noted that county and city governments provision of services to the people had been strained over the crisis and they also noted that the gradual increase of the use of prescription opioid was not an accident.
Defendants used deceptive means
The cities noted that this was as a result of defendants who by use of deceptive means and one of the biggest pharmaceutical market campaign planned and continue to give weight to ‘a dramatic shift in the culture of prescribing opioids by falsely portraying both the risks of addiction and risks of addiction and abuse and the safety and the benefits of long-term use.’
Still, on the defendants, the complaint notes that their companies manufacture, market, and sell opioid which includes drugs with names like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet and also generics like hydrocodone and oxycodone.
They note the defendants’ motive was to boost sales by convincing doctors of opioid’s safety in treating long-term pains as opposed to short-terms pains it was meant to treat. They continue to cite that the defendant knew of its addiction and knew that it was not safe for long-term use.
They conclude by stating, the defendant plan worked and that they reaped billions and billions in profit at the expense of addictions to millions of people. They note that the companies should not place profit before customer’s health and that drug companies should relay factual information (supported by medical and science information) while marketing their drugs.
They note that the defendants broke the rules and let out a health crisis that has seen deadly consequences experienced stemming from finances and social life in Nevada.
The complaints join the many that other Nevada counties and cities have filed while seeking compensation over the huge expenses stemming from local court cases, emergency services and social services.