Dozens of hospitals across Texas are taking on big pharmaceutical companies and national pharmacies with a lawsuit to hold them accountable for the nation's opioid epidemic.
Hospitals and government officials blame “Big Pharma” for marketing opioids without being fully transparent about the risks associated with the highly addictive drugs.
Parkland Hospital in Dallas is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which is just the latest in a string of similar lawsuits filed across the country.
Attorneys representing several Texas hospitals in this lawsuit said they are seeking billions of dollars to pay for the treatment required for the growing number of patients addicted to these drugs.
“The message it sends is crystal clear: They need to pay to clean up the mess they created,” lead attorney Darren Nicholson said.
Barely a week after the landmark judgment against Johnson & Johnson in Oklahoma, hospitals across Texas are now aiming to hold pharmaceutical companies and national pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, accountable for the opioid epidemic.
“It's a nationwide medical crisis, and the hospitals are at the epicenter of it. Every single hospital in the country, all the hospitals in Texas are dealing with it every single day,” Nicholson added.
The lawsuit alleges that from 1999 to 2015, the number of opioid-related deaths tripled in Texas, adding that “during that period alone, more than 14,171 opioid related deaths were reported in the state.”
Hospital groups, including Parkland, are putting the blame on big companies like Johnson & Johnson, alleging the companies made false statements and misrepresented the addiction and risks of these drugs.
“Pharmaceutical companies are beholden to the almighty dollar. They saw big dollars in this, and they pushed these drugs,” Nicholson added.
Hospitals and government officials now want “Big Pharma” to pay for the treatment required to help addicted patients, and they're seeking millions in reimbursement.
“All of these people need treatment. You have millions of Americans who are now addicted to opioids, and we've got to do something to help them,” Nicholson explained. “This is a problem that's going to be going on for decades. There's not anything anyone can do at that point. It's going to happen.”
This lawsuit was filed Tuesday. Defendants have 30 days to file an answer once they're served with the suit.
A lead attorney on this case said that on average, it usually takes about 15 months to go to trial in Dallas District Court.