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By: Attorney Mitch Grissim
For several years now we’ve all heard about the opioid addiction crisis that’s become an epidemic problem across our nation. Now, a number of attorneys general across the nation have stepped forward to work with the Drug Enforcement Agency on a new way to crack down on the role that big pharma is playing in this tragic state of affairs.
Over fifty different attorney general offices across the U.S. have now reached an agreement with the DEA to obtain information on prescription drug data. The deal covers 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and will make the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, or ARCOS records available. This means over 80 million prescription drug transactions will be available to attorneys general every year.
The news comes on the heels of President Trump’s opioid commission announcing that it was supporting the new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Act. This allows for the creation of a new data-sharing hub that will be overseen by the Department of Justice. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that this effort will make the states and the federal DEA more effective at tracking down criminal activities.
So far, only two states—Arkansas and Delaware—are not participating in the program, and it’s unclear how the new data-sharing agreement will operate. There is little information yet as to whether there will be a new platform, or whether interstate sharing of prescription data will be possible.
One sticking point involves whether clinicians will have access to the data. Currently, the agreement with the DEA seems to be limited to state investigators and focused on prosecution of crimes, rather than aiding clinicians.
Sessions did indicate that there is a proposed change forthcoming that will regulate opioid production in large pharmaceutical companies. This will allow the government to limit opioid production in companies suspected of having their drugs misused.
The Trump administration has focused more on enforcement than on new laws, and just last year the DOJ established the new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection unit to help focus on data that can be used to track down those illegally distributing these medications. There have been nearly 30 arrests of medical professionals over the past several months, with over 147 licenses revoked.
Sessions stressed that this data has been the key factor in the ability of the agency to crack down on illegal prescribers. It allows the enforcement agency, he said, to note which prescribers are issuing these drugs the most, and whose patients are dying from overdoses.
Of course, another important branch in the war against opioid addiction is the ability to file suit against companies who produce such dangerous drugs. Recently, a number of states filed a lawsuit against the company that produces OxyContin, accusing them of downplaying the serious risks of addiction and failing to warn customers about the dangers associated with the drug. The company, of course, denies these claims.
A personal injury case, it’s important to note, proceeds entirely separate from any criminal case. Regardless of whether a company or healthcare provider has faced criminal penalties for issuing dangerous drugs, those who have been hurt by these drugs can still file a civil case. In a civil case, you are entitled to monetary compensation for the harm you’ve been caused by the irresponsibility of another. That includes drug companies and healthcare providers.
There are several approaches one can take to a drug injury case, and most cases involve several elements. Most drug injury lawsuits are product liability claims. They involve pharmaceuticals that are defectively manufactured, meaning something was allowed to go wrong in the manufacturing process or the drugs got somehow tainted before they reached the patient.
They can also involve drugs that have dangerous side effects which result in injury. If you can demonstrate that the manufacturer knew about the side effect and failed to warn about or mitigate it, they can be held liable. Finally, drugs that are improperly marketed, such as failure to provide adequate instructions, or downplaying potentially serious consequences of use.
If you’re in the Mobile, Alabama, area and you’ve been the victim of the opioid crisis, or any other prescription drug injury, you could be entitled to significant compensation. Contact the Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys for a free case consultation with a drug injury lawyer today.
Mitch Grissim is the managing partner of Mitch Grissim & Associates, a prominent personal injury law firm in Nashville, Tennessee. Mitch is a graduate of the Nashville School of Law and has been practicing personal injury law in Nashville, Tennessee since 1981.
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