Tag Archives: drug addiction

Tennessee Lawsuit Alleges Opioid Drug Manufacturers Deceived Public

Holding Drug Companies Liable

Three Tennessee prosecutors and the guardian of a baby born addicted to opioids say that several drug manufacturers are responsible for starting an epidemic “through deceptive marketing about the risks of addiction to painkillers.”

A lawsuit was filed on June 13, 2017, in Sullivan County Circuit Court, Kingston, Tennessee. It shares the story of the first few day of life of an unidentified infant born in March 2015, and describes how the child had to be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital where he was born.

Child Born Addicted to Drugs

The infant was born to an addicted mother. He spent two weeks in the NICU. During that time, he often “cried uncontrollably” and was treated with morphine to wean him off of drugs. The lawsuit also describes the child as having ongoing health issues and learning disabilities. None of these allegations have been proven in court.

Plaintiffs Seeking Unspecified Damages

The legal action was filed by three district attorneys representing parts of Appalachia. The defendants are Purdue, manufacturer of OxyContin, Mallinckrodt PLC, a drug maker that develops and sells several pain medications, and Endo Health Solutions. The latter company sells Opana; it develops and sells a number of other drugs used to treat pain. Other defendants named in the lawsuit are an alleged pill mill and two people previously convicted for dealing drugs.

The lawsuit is asking the court to make this class of drug less accessible in the state. An unspecified amount of damages are being requested. If the lawsuit is successful, this money will be used specifically for the following:

• Medical expenses
• Drug addiction treatment
• Pain and suffering

The lawsuit is also asking the court to declare an existing state law limiting the amount of non-economic and punitive damages that defendants can be awarded in a lawsuit unconstitutional. The prosecutors who started the lawsuit plan to join with other district attorneys to put pressure on state lawmakers to control the number of pain clinics operating in the state and what they describe as the overprescribing of opioids.

Drug Makers Denying Allegations

Purdue has “vigorously denied” the allegations in the complaint, stating that the company shares the public’s concerns about the opioid crisis and that it is “committed to working collaboratively to find solutions.”

Mallinckrodt stated that it takes its responsibility as an opioid manufacturer “very seriously.” The company said that it only makes generic versions of drugs and doesn’t promote them. Mallinckrodt also said in an official statement that it has made broad efforts to support dealing with the opioid health crisis through “a range of advocacy initiatives, direct lobbying campaigns, and charitable activities.”

Are Students the New Drug Dealers?

rxstimulantThere are often two stereotypes of drug dealers. One is that they are from a bad neighborhood selling drugs in order to make money, the other is that they are extremely wealthy, dealing mostly in clubs and big cities. Neither of these stereotypes fit into the mold of the newest kind of drug dealer – the student. Law enforcement officials have noticed that it is becoming more common than ever before for students to sell their prescription drugs to other students, and recent information from national surveys confirms the trend.

The prescription drugs are usually Adderall or Ritalin, drugs prescribed to those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These drugs are commonly given to school-aged children because their disorder often manifests in a classroom environment. For those who are not diagnosed with ADHD, taking these drugs has the same effect that cocaine or even methamphetamine would have on a person. Many people abuse these prescriptions in an attempt to be able to do more school work or get better grades; some people abuse these drugs as a substitute for cocaine or methamphetamine.

For those people who do have a legitimate prescription the pressure can be strong to sell their pills to other students or friends. Dealing these pills to others puts people in the same category as a drug dealer that stands on the corner, though they may not realize this. Often times because the drugs are in pill form and came from a doctor, potential dealers and users do not consider them to be as bad or dangerous as cocaine or methamphetamine. This is a common misconception, and one that can lead to a heavy addiction.

Despite the fact that prescription stimulants usually come from a doctor and pharmacist, it does not mean that they are safe for everyone to take. Ingesting a medication that is not being overseen by a physician and that is meant for a disorder that one may not actually have is always dangerous and can lead to greater problems in the future. The potential for abuse still remains even when taken as prescribed in some cases. An addiction to these types of drugs is just as dangerous to an addiction to any other type of drug, just like a person who sells these drugs is just like any other drug dealer.

Why Jail Isn’t the Answer for Drug Offenders

At one point, the intention behind sending drug offenders to jail as a means of punishment was intended to help them kick their habit. The thought was that if law enforcement could help addicts get away from the drug long enough to get through the intense cravings and scare the addicts at the same time more people suffering from a drug and/or alcohol addiction would be helped by being sent to jail for their offenses. Over time this train of thought has proven to have its weaknesses. Addicts are not being helped by the prison system; in fact they are being worse for having spent time in the system when they could have been remanded to a drug and alcohol treatment center.

In our overcrowded prisons many of the inmates are there for drug offenses. For those that are addicts, their time is spent craving the drug that got them into jail in the first place and waiting to be released. While some prisons do have a form of rehab available to those suffering from an addiction, many addicts are just waiting until they can get their next fix.

Courts all over the country are starting to recognize that sending addicts to jail is not the answer. Drug courts and court-ordered rehab stints are becoming more popular in sentencing. Sending an addict to treatment allows them to get away from their drug of choice, get through the oftentimes painful withdrawal symptoms and receive counseling. Experts agree that in order to successfully handle a drug and/or alcohol addiction the addict must be treated both physically and mentally. Drug and alcohol treatment centers are equipped to handle this, not our prison systems.

Because drug addiction oftentimes leads to breaking the law it is clear that addicts will never fully be out of the judicial system, however there should be a different way to handle them. By ensuring that addicts are sent to a treatment center they are being given an opportunity to handle the addiction that is killing them.