Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers– Will They Succeed?

Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers– Will They Succeed?


A slew of municipalities and states are getting their day in court.

Actions against opioid manufacturers are growing like grapes in Bacchus’ vineyards. These suits wish to make pharmaceutical companies pay for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis. The claim is that companies trivialized addictive risks of their drugs while overstating their benefits to doctors.

Will they prevail?

It may prove difficult. Some individuals have tried suing and failed. It is hard to persuade a court that FDA-approved drugs are flawed or do not have proper warnings. Also, drug marketing targets doctors, and not consumers, making it easy for pharma to blame shift to prescribers.

Yet, litigants are optimistic. They’re heartened by prior settlements, such as the 2007 decision where Purdue Pharma had to admit to wrongdoing in their promotion of Oxycontin as less addictive than other opioids. Purdue was required to pay out $634.5 million to the federal government, and three executives pled guilty to criminal charges.

These complaints have already had a positive impact. Terrible PR and fear of large payouts have helped motivate pharma companies to spend big on researching less addictive pain medications. This is a paradigm shift, since less addictive medications are typically less profitable medications. In this, the lawsuits succeed no matter where the gavels fall.

This will be fascinating to watch unfold.

Rich K.