A coalition of 21 Alabama hospitals has filed a suit against makers of opioid-based drugs, including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories.
The civil suit, filed today in Conecuh County, alleges the drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers “engaged in a decades-long practice of making false assurances about addiction risks associated with opioid products and used other deceptive marketing tactics to persuade physicians and health care providers to broaden prescribing patterns.”
The opioid epidemic, the hospitals allege, has resulted in “substantial investments in people, processes and facilities” needed to care for patients with multiple health problems associated with treating complications that come from opioid addiction.
“The deceptive marketing efforts of the defendants substantially contributed to an explosion in the use of opioids across the country – and the aftereffects are felt in hospitals every single day,” said Robert King, attorney with The King Law Firm, representing the hospitals. “Hospitals have provided heroic levels of care to opioid-addicted patients and saved countless lives. But the financial, operational and emotional expense for hospitals is staggering. The defendants are at the root of this crisis.”
In 2017, 107.2 opioid prescriptions were written for every 100 people in Alabama, the highest prescribing rate in the country and nearly twice as high as the national average of 58.7 per person, attorneys said. There were 167 deaths involving prescription opioids in Alabama in 2017, up from 124 the previous year.
Industry analysts estimate the country’s healthcare system incurred more than $215.7 billion in costs related to the opioid crisis from 2001 to 2017. The costs were largely attributable to overdose-related emergency department visits.
Among the hospitals filing suit include: DCH Health Care Authority; The Healthcare Authority for Baptist Health; Medical West Hospital Authority; Evergreen Medical Center; Gilliard Health Services; Crestwood Healthcare; Triad of Alabama LLC; QHG of Enterprise, Inc.; Affinity Hospital LLC; Gadsden Regional Medical Center, LLC; Foley Hospital Corp.; The Healthcare Authority of Clarke County; Princeton Baptist Medical Center; Walker Baptist Medical Center; Shelby Baptist Medical Center; Citizens Baptist Medical Center; Brookwood Baptist Health Systems.
Defendants in the case include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and more than 40 other companies and individuals.
The Alabama case is similar to hundreds other similar ones filed by hospitals across the country.