Charleston County Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors Accountable

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Charleston County, one of the communities hardest hit by overdoses and deaths from the opioid crisis, against manufacturers and distributors linked to the opioid crisis.

Baltimore-based law firm Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. filed the suit on behalf of the county. The firm currently represents 15 entities in South Carolina and Florida in opioid litigation against the manufacturers and distributors of opiate medications such as OxyContin and fentanyl.

The local legal team includes the Charleston County Attorney’s Office; Dwayne Green of the Law Offices of Dwayne Green; Peter Philips, former federal and state prosecutor and principal of Peter Phillips Law, LLC; Doug Treasurer, attorney and former Special Agent with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Leon Stavrinakis of Stavrinakis Law Firm; Theodore Parker, III of Parker Nelson & Associates; Clarence Davis of Griffin Davis; and Billy Walker of Walker Morgan, LLC.

ABC News 4 is reporting that a similar lawsuit has been filed by the City of North Charleston.

The following information was provided by Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A.:

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 4,490,916 opioid prescriptions were filled in South Carolina in 2015 —about 109 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons compared to the national opioid prescribing rate of 70 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons. Nationwide, more than 115 people die each day as a result of opioid overdose.

Used as pain-relievers, opioids block pain pathways in the body to reduce the sensation of pain and increase feelings of relaxation and pleasure. Historically, opioid medication is used for acute and post-operative pain, and pain related to cancer and end of life. The promotion and marketing of opioid prescription by manufacturers, wholesalers, and healthcare providers has contributed to the waves of epidemic opioid addiction now covering the US.

Communities across the US continue to suffer extensive costs and other damages due to the promotional practices, regulatory non-compliance and greed demonstrated by pharmaceutical and associated companies at the root of the opioid epidemic.

The resulting coast-to-coast opioid crises have left few families and communities untouched by tragedy. Just some of the impacts of addiction are:

  • Devastating loss of life from overdose of prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
  • Increasing numbers of babies born already addicted to opioids, or who suffer abuse in the home from parents who are suffering from opioid addiction.
  • Rapidly escalating national medical expenses related to addiction treatment, care of persons injured or infected through opioid abuse, and prevention programs.

Manufacturers and distributors of opioid pharmaceuticals are the starting point for supplying and driving opioid pain-relievers into the hands and bodies of patients who may not have needed powerfully addictive medications. Seeking to optimize their profit share, manufacturers engaged in promotional practices that included:

  • Amplifying the health benefits of long-term use of opioids for common conditions involving chronic pain.
  • Creating outreach campaigns through professional societies, scientific articles, and sponsoring medical conferences to advance the idea that opioid users were not at great risk of addiction.

The companies that distributed pharmaceuticals engaged in activities such as:

  • Wholesale opioid distributors failed to develop processes and best practices as statutorily required to investigate, identify, and report drug diversion.
  • These same distributors neglected or failed to notify US Drug Enforcement agencies concerning orders of opioids that indicated drug diversion.

From the newborn to the elderly, opioid addiction is harmful and potentially life threatening. This expert legal team is committed to exposing the actions of those who promote and provide dangerous drugs to vulnerable patients in Charleston County.

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