Media: Peter Mirijanian (202) 464-8803 or C. Brylski/D. Johnson (504) 897-6110
- INFANT OPIOID ADDICTION CRISIS ADDRESSED BY GROUNDBREAKING LAWSUITS IN EIGHT STATES ASKING FOR MEDICAL-LEGAL SOLUTION
- Ohio, Maryland, Missouri, Illinois, California, West Virginia, Tennessee and Louisiana file class-actions on behalf of children who will need life-long care because of opioid-addicted pregnant moms
- US DISTRICT JUDGE IN CLEVELAND CONVENES open and closed door discussions with litigant and negotiating teams on national opiate litigation today
The class action suits on behalf of the opioid-addicted infants and their guardians are similarly situated to address the need for the long-term costs of care and court-supervised medical monitoring due to the opioid drug abuse of the child’s mom; creates a medical-legal-social partnership to address the growing addiction crisis now impacting children born and afflicted with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) because their mothers consumed opioids during pregnancy. NAS is a clinical diagnosis and a consequence of the abrupt discontinuation of chronic fetal exposure to substances that were used or abused by the mother during pregnancy.
Attorneys who are part of the Opioid Justice Team (www.opioidjusticeteam.com)
- Families of children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) face hardships due to the extenuating circumstances to which they find themselves subject; these children, and their families need a voice, and need to be made whole.
Facts related to NAS:
- National studies of Medicaid-enrolled women by the Centers for Disease Control found that 21.6 percent filled at least one opioid prescription during pregnancy
- Every 19 minutes an opioid-addicted baby is born in this country
- Newborn babies experience side effects to include excessive crying, heavy sweating, diarrhea, tremors, convulsions, seizures, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and pain as soon as 24 hours to 10 days after birth
- Methadone or Morphine is often needed to treat infant opioid withdrawal, known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Long-term side effects include Attention Deficit Disorder, cognitive deficits, growth delays, depression and behavioral problems, and life-long infertility or ability to function independently
The lawsuits seek funds to treat and protect opioid-dependent babies, children and youth born in Ohio.
A key party to these suits is Kanwaljeet J. S. "Sunny" Anand, the nation’s foremost expert on opioids in infants and a Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Perioperative & Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. “There is an unprecedented epidemic of opioid addiction sweeping across the U.S.,” said Dr. Anand. “Newborn babies are the most vulnerable citizens, their lives and developmental potential are disrupted by Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), but arrangements for their short-term and long-term care have been ignored until now. These babies need strong advocacy and legal action to ensure that their rights are protected, and that they urgently receive essential medical care and rehabilitation. Use of prescription opioids during pregnancy increased from 1.2 to 5.6 per 1000 births per year, leading to sevenfold increases in the total NICU days attributed to NAS. On average, one infant with NAS is hospitalized every hour in the U.S.”
Named as defendants in the suit are an array of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and retailers, all of whom netted millions if not billions of dollars due to unfair and deceptive trade practices that preyed on all Americans, including the unborn, say the attorneys. To establish and exploit the lucrative market of chronic pain patients, the defendants developed a well-funded, sophisticated, and deceptive marketing and/or distribution scheme targeted at consumers and physicians, according to the suit. The lawsuit also argues that access to treatment services are woefully insufficient to meaningfully improve outcomes related to opioid addiction abatement, noting that the 2012 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services data indicate that only a small percent of outpatient-only substance abuse treatment facilities and of residential treatment facilities offered special programs for pregnant/postpartum women; within hospital inpatient treatment facilities, a significantly smaller percentage offered special programs for pregnant/postpartum women.
The class actions seek to eliminate the hazard to public health and safety caused by the opioid epidemic and to hold fully responsible those whose actions created this crisis by targeting those who have profited from the production, distribution and sale of opioids . Hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers must have the means necessary to address the resultant prescription opioid addiction.