Twenty-one Alabama hospitals, including Flowers Hospital in Dothan and Medical Center Enterprise, have filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the nation’s opioid health crisis.
According to a press release from The King Law Firm, a Monroeville-based firm representing the hospitals, more than 107 prescriptions for opioids were written for every 100 people in Alabama in 2017 – almost twice as many as the national average. Prescription opioids caused 167 deaths in 2017, an increase from 2016 when they factored in 124 deaths.
The lawsuit charges drug manufacturers and their distributors downplayed the addiction risks associated with opioid use and used “other deceptive marketing tactics” to encourage doctors and healthcare providers to prescribe more medicines. The results have been addictions and deaths with hospitals bearing the financial weight of the impacts, the announcement said.
“The deceptive marketing efforts of the defendants substantially contributed to an explosion in the use of opioids across the country – and the aftereffects are felt in hospitals every single day,” attorney Robert King said. “Hospitals have provided heroic levels of care to opioid-addicted patients and saved countless lives. But the financial, operational and emotional expense for hospitals is staggering. The defendants are at the root of this crisis.”
Defendants in the case, which is filed in Conecuh County, include Purdue Pharma, Johnson and Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, and more than 40 other companies involved in the manufacturing and distribution of opioids. In late August, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson and Johnson to pay $572 million to the state for its role in the opioid crisis.
Various entities account for more than 2,000 lawsuits filed against major pharmaceutical companies and others in the health crisis. Locally, some governmental entities like the City of Daleville and the Houston County Commission have joined lawsuits in an effort to recoup costs stemming from opioid abuse, including law enforcement expenses.