Opioid Litigation

Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled. The number of deaths from prescription opioids has more than quadrupled over the same time period. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

As hundreds of thousands of people suffered from the metastasizing opioid epidemic, attorneys at Simmons Hanly Conroy took notice and effectively invented large-scale, multi-defendant opioid litigation against drug manufacturers. In 2003, the firm commenced groundbreaking opioid litigation and went toe-to-toe against pharmaceutical giants, becoming the only major plaintiffs’ firm in the country at the time to prosecute and hold them accountable for the havoc they wreaked on individuals, families and governmental entities throughout the country. The firm continues to lead the way in opioid litigation and serves as a trusted ally to local and state governments who seek justice and reprieve from the often debilitating costs associated with fighting the opioid crisis.

The Real Costs of Opioid Addiction

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual economic burden of prescription opioid abuse in the United States to be $78.4 billion. The CDC broke this down further, estimating the staggering average aggregate distribution of economic costs, many of which are shouldered by governments, municipalities and communities as follows:

  • Lost Productivity – $42 billion
  • Health Insurance – $26.1 billion
  • Criminal Justice – $7.6 billion
  • Substance Abuse Treatment – $2.8 billion

The end goal of this litigation and others like it is to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for the costs communities incur as a result of the opioid epidemic. These cases seek to recover those costs, including costs for opioids, social costs, and costs related to addiction treatment, programming and training, healthcare, criminal justice and victimization, as well as lost productivity.

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How Did We Get Here?

The National Institutes of Health identified drug companies’ “aggressive marketing” as a major contributor to the nation’s opioid-abuse problem. Their deceptive and fraudulent marketing campaigns misrepresented the safety and efficacy of long-term use. Despite a lack of scientific evidence that supports the use of opioids for long-term pain management, nearly 254 million prescriptions have been issued since 1999. That’s enough to medicate every U.S. adult around the clock for one month.

Proven Success in Opioid Litigation

Simmons Hanly Conroy is the most qualified law firm in the country to undertake opioid litigation on behalf of governmental entities and institutions. When the firm led the crusade in 2003, it held Purdue Pharma LLP and Abbott Laboratories, Inc., accountable for damages suffered by more than 5,000 clients prescribed the prescription opioid OxyContin. Following a three-plus-year battle that included the firm separately filing more than 1,200 cases in various courts across the country, Purdue Pharma settled all 5,000-plus of the clients’ claims.

Evidence the firm uncovered during discovery proved the full extent of Purdue’s criminality. It was subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice and used in its prosecution of Purdue and its executives, leading to a fine of more than $600 million. Several executives also plead guilty to misbranding violations and had to personally pay multi-million dollars in fines.

Communities Filing Opioid Lawsuits

Since the Pharma litigation concluded, SHC has been routinely contacted about opioid litigation because the firm’s attorneys are uniformly acknowledged to be the most experienced in the country concerning the marketing and distribution of these dangerous drugs. The firm currently represents governmental entities in Illinois, Louisiana, Texas, and eight New York counties in on-going litigation against pharmaceutical companies and physicians. It is also actively investigating similar cases on behalf of government bodies and institutions across the country.

Why File an Opioid Lawsuit?

Local and state governments should not have to grapple with the costs associated with treating the opioid epidemic alone. Municipalities and counties across the country are now pursuing legal damages related to lost productivity, health insurance, criminal justice, substance abuse treatment and more – all caused by the opioid epidemic.

Lawsuits empower communities to hold drug companies responsible for their role in the addiction crisis and help begin the healing process. You have the power to make a difference regarding the opioid epidemic in your community.

Trusted Authority in the News

SHC is regarded as an authority on opioid litigation and is often looked to for guidance in navigating the issue by respected news publications and other media. Shareholders Paul J. Hanly Jr. and Jayne Conroy are regularly contacted for their expertise and asked to participate in several panel discussions, conferences and webinars about opioid litigation. Below is a small sampling of the publications that have looked to Paul and Jayne for their trusted views on the subject.