A new analysis states that by 2017, at least 2.2 million children had been affected by the U.S. opioid crisis, with that number set to grow in the coming years. A report from the United Hospital Fund, a health policy nonprofit based in New York, claims the total population of children influenced by the epidemic will grow to 4.3 million in 2030 with a cost of $400 billion.
While the primary way a child is affected by the epidemic is through parental use of opioids, children can also be impacted through the death of a parent due to opioid overdose or through separation from drug-dependent parents. Additionally, this new study estimates that 170,000 children have opioid use disorder or were directly exposed to the drug in recent years.
With thousands of lawsuits related to opioids being pushed through courts across the country, many are left wondering what will be done to fix the opioid crisis within the United States and how children affected by the epidemic will receive the care and services they need.
History of the Opioid Epidemic and Children
The use of opioid pain killers such as Codeine, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone started to grow in the 1990s as physicians prescribed the medication for anything from broken bones, to surgery, to chronic pain. Between the years of 1999 and 2017, almost 400,000 people died due to opioid overdose, with over 2 million being dependent on the medication. Current data states that the numbers continue to grow year to year.
Those prescribed the highly addictive and dangerous medications claim that their physicians and manufacturers downplayed the risks to profit from the increasing misuse of the drug as it became overprescribed across the country. As the epidemic grew, the number of displaced children followed as caretakers overdosed or displayed other complications.
As the crisis stands, its current trajectory could lead to the death of 82,000 people by 2025 with a growing economic strain due to childcare, foster services, and adoption expenses as more children have their lives impacted by parental dependency on opioid medication. Many are calling for outpatient, inpatient, and residential treatment programs as well as school-based programs to deal with the long-term effects this crisis is having on children.
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Present litigation continues to argue that pharmaceutical companies, professional medical associations, and local drugstores contributed to the epidemic through deceptive claims of opioids. The largest case was composed of 35,000 accusers and named almost 400 defendants as perpetrators of the misleading claims that contributed to the gross misuse of the medications.
The personal suffering of those directly or indirectly affected by the opioid crisis is immeasurable, making it difficult to identify fair reparation. With pharmaceutical companies like Purdue filing for bankruptcy to protect proposed settlement agreements, some families seeking compensation may find it increasingly difficult as manufacturers are hit with multitudes of lawsuits.
Policymakers and community leaders are pursuing legislation to keep families together in the event of a parental overdose. However, in states with greater numbers of opioid-affected children being displaced, there appear to be fewer programs aimed at keeping families together.
Contact an Attorney Today
As the opioid epidemic continues to grow, more and more people are pursuing legal action against negligent or deceptive companies that contributed to drug dependency, health risks, and the death of loved ones. While financial compensation can never replace a loved one or the years lost to drug dependency, many find solace in the knowledge that companies are being held liable for their actions in a way that prevents them from impacting others.
If you or someone you love has been harmed by opioid medication and wants to pursue legal action, you could benefit from reaching out to a knowledgeable attorney.
The lawyers at Laborde Earles have experience handling large lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. We could pursue aggressive legal action against opioid manufacturers while also proving our dedication to you and prioritizing your wellbeing. Our sympathetic attorneys understand the emotions that could come with a lawsuit involving opioids and could help you pursue the legal path towards justice that works best for you.