As many residents of Georgia who follow the news probably already know, the United States is currently in the midst of a prescription painkiller, or opioid, crisis.
These types of drugs, including medications like fentanyl, are ripe for abuse since they have a powerful effect, sometimes similar to what people experience from hard street drugs like heroin. Not surprisingly, the black market for these drugs has exploded. Sadly, thousands of people die from complications related to overdosing on these drugs each year.
Several states and other government bodies have recently sued the manufacturers of these drugs, alleging that they have misled the public about the highly addictive nature of these drugs. While some of the manufacturers have not commented on the pending litigation, which has been consolidated in a federal court, other manufacturers have publicly denied the allegations in the lawsuits in what some might see as an unusual move.
The federal government has submitted a "statement of interest" in the litigation, which, as the name implies, simply indicates that the Department of Justice is concerned about opioid abuse and the role of drug manufacturers in prolonging and expanding this epidemic. The Department has not sued the manufacturers directly, although the President recently indicated it is considering that option.
While it might not be the sort of thing one typically thinks of when thinking about medical product liability, this story serves as an important reminder that manufacturers of medical products, including drugs, have to accurately warn consumers about all apparent dangers a product may pose, including, one can easily argue, a drug's addictive properties. When manufacturers fail in this responsibility, people tend to get hurt. Fortunately, legal remedies may be available to victims and their families.
Source: CNBC, "Trump says federal government lawsuit against drug companies over opioid crisis 'will happen'," Dan Mangan, March 1, 2018.