So far, 14 Tennessee attorneys general (spanning 47 counties) have joined together to file a pharmaceutical liability lawsuit against opioid drug companies, doctors and providers.
Their main argument is that these manufacturers knowingly contributed to America’s epidemic painkiller addiction and subsequent addiction to illegal drugs, particularly heroin and fentanyl.
The impact of the opioid crisis in Tennessee
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 63,000 deaths due to drug overdose in the US in 2016. About 66 percent of those deaths involved some type of opioid drug. A whopping 236 million people were prescribed an opioid in 2016 alone.
The Tennessee Attorney General leading the charge, Herbert H. Slatery III, explains the reasons for the lawsuit filed against Purdue Pharma, a major player in the opioid problem:
“Our Office has conducted an extensive investigation into Purdue’s highly aggressive marketing practices and other unlawful conduct. We believe Purdue’s conduct has been unconscionable, and we intend to hold the company accountable. Three Tennesseans are dying each day from opioid-related overdoses, and we are committed to the hard work that needs to be done to address this tragedy.”
The primary purpose of an opioid is to block pain receptors in the brain. They also signal your brain to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is in control of your brain’s pleasure centers. Because of this, opioids make you feel like you’re high, much like illegal drugs.
Besides the fact that lives are being lost to drug overdose, the opioid epidemic is costing states billions of dollars in substance abuse treatment and medical care. One of the primary goals for the lawsuit is to give counties back at least some of what they’ve lost in providing care and treatment to thousands of addicts every year.
The lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and providers now involves 40 states in the U.S. and continues to be a hot button issue among attorneys general across the nation.