More than 115 people die every day in the United States due to opioid drug overdoses according to the the National Institute on Drug Abuse. How did we get here? Many say that doctors and organizations overselling pain drugs are to blame. In fact, some are taking leading pain authorities across the country to court.
Major players in the pain killer industry up and down the supply chain are facing lawsuits, from influential doctors to major manufacturers. Over 430 lawsuits are currently pending in federal court, and a few dozen are waiting to be addressed in state courts.
Essentially, lawsuits are claiming that organizations and doctors pushed to sell massive quantities of highly addictive drugs, leading to a national public health crisis. Organizations taking the heat in these lawsuits include Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions and more.
Three major pain doctors face at least 80 lawsuits
Three pain doctors in particular face at least 80 of the 430 pending lawsuits. The three highlighted doctors include Lynn Webster, Perry Fine and Scott Fishman, chief of pain medicine at UC Davis. Fishman has longstanding ties to the opioid industry, and has written publications and performed public lectures on using drugs to manage pain.
In lawsuits, these doctors are referred to as “key opinion leaders.” This term is used by pharmaceutical companies for powerful doctors they seek to influence. This method is a workaround to avoid restrictions on branded marketing for pain drugs.
The targeted doctors allegedly accepted tens of thousands of dollars to perform research, consultations, speeches and seminars for opioid manufacturers. They led organizations also receiving funding by opioid manufacturers. The doctors and organizations allegedly overstated the drugs’ ability and did not fully disclose the risks.
Both doctors and organizations targeted by lawsuits around the country deny the claims. The scope of these lawsuits is staggering, but they could yield real results for plaintiffs. Not only could plaintiffs receive settlements, but litigation could create a push for change in the pain drug industry.