Jeff Sheppard Weighs in On How Communities May Turn to Lawsuits to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Posted on: January 11, 2018
NEW JERSEY. According to, in 2016, 1,901 people died from opioid overdose deaths. These numbers don’t begin to take into account the number of people addicted to prescription opioids, or the many others who have turned to heroin or other drugs. Yet, local municipalities and communities are starting to fight back. According to UpNorthLive, nine municipalities in Michigan have decided to file lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. According to Michigan records, more people are dying from opioid overdoses than car crashes and guns.

There are wide disagreements on the best way to fight the opioid crisis. Some think that local rescue personnel need to be trained on how to administer medicine that can stop an overdose from happening. Not all areas are equipped with drugs that can stop overdoses. Some believe that these drugs promote more drug use while others feel that the drug can save lives. However, some law firms are considering the role pharmaceutical companies played in the opioid crisis.

Mother Jones recently released a timeline of the opioid crisis. In the timeline, pharmaceutical companies are revealed to have pursued aggressive marketing campaigns to promote opioids. Pharmaceutical companies also at times released what appear to be deceptive marketing practices that claimed that opioid-based drugs were not addictive. Drug distributers have also made billions by flooding certain local markets with large quantities of pain killers. Health care providers were also part of the problem, writing an estimated 259 million prescriptions for painkillers by 2012. In 2016, an estimated 64,000 Americans have died as a result of drug overdoses.

According to Michigan Radio, state, local, and federal governments have filed lawsuits against drug makers for the impact of addiction in local districts. Some lawyers believe that lawsuits might be a good way to make drug companies pay for their deceptive marketing practices and for their failure to warn certain patients about the risks of prescription drugs. According to Michigan Radio, personal injury lawsuits have thus far not been successful in court in getting drug companies to pay. While drug companies have a strong defense—either the doctor didn’t prescribe the drug properly or the patient wasn’t using the drug as directed—some believe that state and local governments may have a better chance of winning their lawsuits. The government can address the ways the pharmaceutical companies’ actions have affected local community health and wellbeing.

Government lawsuits will likely only reimburse local and federal governments for the money they have spent on the opioid epidemic. The money will not likely be seen by patients or their families. However, if you have suffered injury due to a prescription you didn’t believe you needed or due to the negligence or neglect of another person or party, you may have other options under the law. Jeff Sheppard, Esq. is a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey who is closely watching the situation unfold. If you have questions about whether you may have a case in New Jersey, contact our firm today at