Mr. Centola and his firm are part of a leadership group of nationwide prominent lawyers from plaintiff and defense bars, and health experts who are now representing plaintiffs in massive tort claims against America’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for knowingly over-producing and distributing opiate-based drugs and minimizing or completely omitting the drugs’ risks.
The lawsuit by Addiction Recovery Resources differs from suits filed last week in Louisiana by municipalities in that it specifically targets the distributors of prescription opioids in Louisiana for knowingly exploiting chronic pain patients and their doctors with deceptive marketing schemes about the long-term use of opioid medications, said Attorney Centola.
The suit details extensively how the opioid distributors falsely instructed doctors and patients that symptoms indicating addiction to the opiate drugs were actually signs of under-treated pain and thus should be treated with even higher levels of the prescription opioid drug. The distributors used deceptive scientific claims to back up this practice despite Federal Drug Administration warnings in 2016 that high-dose opioid usage was increasing overdose and mortality in users. Many distributors claimed their opioid drugs had FDA approval for safe and effective chronic use, when they did not.
"The actions of America’s opioid pharmaceutical industry and their distributors created a personal disaster for many of our families that result in addiction and death. Our team is ready to protect the interests of all those who have suffered and will continue to suffer as a result of their callous actions," said Mr. Centola. “It’s time for the legal and medical professions to stand up and work together to help solve this health crisis.”
The taxpayers should not bear the burdens of ER visits, treatment clinics, emergency medication, costs of foster care and the costs of public employees charged with treating and saving the lives of opiate addicts. Due to extensive public indebtedness on federal and state levels, it seems reasonable and logical to conclude that those who profit off this health disaster should pay, not the taxpayer, said Mr. Centola.
The facts presented by the law group’s medical expert Brent Bell PA-C, Radiation Oncology, include:
- Prescription opioids kill twice as many people in the U.S. as heroin, and surpass car accident deaths in the U.S;
- Nearly 100 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, and half of all overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid;
- 91% of persons who have a non-fatal overdose of opioids are prescribed opioids again within one year;
- 7 in 10 opioids overdoses that are treated in an ER are for prescription opioids;
- The Centers for Disease Control in 2016 disputed pharmaceutical company claims that opiate addiction is not possible in patients with chronic pain;
- CDC and Federal Drug Administration guidelines in 2016 also stated that the benefits of high opiate dosage for chronic pain are not established and not proven to increase patient function or have a long-term benefit in reducing pain.
“Facts show that pharmaceutical drug companies and their distribution partners exaggerated the benefits of opioids, downplayed risks and consequences, knew the drugs were being overly prescribed, yet failed to warn doctors of the extremely addictive nature of the narcotics and the need to strictly limit and monitor the dose,” said Mr. Centola.
The legal team is focusing on prescription opioid distributors’ violation of the Controlled Substances Act by failing to report the unusual patterns associated with the opioid purchases and use. The attorneys point to multiple on-the-record admissions of wrongdoing by many manufacturers and distributors of opioids. Other law firms signed onto the filing are Cooper Law Firm, LLC and Billy Gibbens, Schonekas, Evans, McGoey, Mceachin LLC, both of New Orleans.
“Many of these target defendants have pled guilty to criminal violation or paid massive fines; their liability is unquestioned,” said Mr. Centola.
For more information contact: Attorney Lawrence Centola (504) 581-9065.
For media interviews with Dr. Bell or other members of Opioid Justice Now:
C. Brylski/D. Johnson (504) 897-6110