How Much Has the Opioid Epidemic Cost the Public?

August 29, 2017  |  Public Entities
Opioid Epidemic Cost

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the opioid epidemic has cost the country a staggering $78 billion. About 10 percent of that amount – $7.7 billion, according to the CDC – has been borne by state and local governments due to costs related to the criminal justice system as well as lost tax revenue.

So what can these public entities do to try and recoup those costs?

Take legal action against the manufacturers of these deadly drugs, that’s what.

No Longer Standing Still

There were more than 30,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2015 alone. In fact, that was the first year that the number of deaths from heroin overdoses, according to the CDC, outnumbered gun homicides in the U.S.

And now, the companies that manufacture and distribute opioids are facing lawsuits from state and local governments across the country. At least 25 counties, cities and states have taken action against opioid manufacturers in the last year alone, and many others are expected to do the same thing.

These public entities are following the successful strategy used in the 1990s that held tobacco companies responsible for the public health crisis they caused. Opioid lawsuits could force the pharmaceutical industry to change its practices, much as tobacco lawsuits forced a change in that industry. Tobacco companies agreed to pay more than $200 billion in 1998 to settle outstanding lawsuits filed by state and local governments.

In addition, the attorney general offices in more than half the states are working together to investigate opioid manufacturers in an effort to curb a problem that has spiraled out of control.

It’s time that opioid manufacturers were forced to face accountability for their role in causing this incredible epidemic. If you represent a public entity and are considering legal action, Baron & Budd may be able to help. Please complete our contact form or call 866-320-4662 to learn more.

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