Multiple major lawsuits have been launched against various parties in the opioid industry. Since opioid sales began to ramp up in 1999, there have been 300,000 fatal overdoses in the United States from these prescription pills. Industry regulators attribute the cause of this epidemic to opioid manufacturers and distributors deliberately misleading doctors and patients about the drugs’ risks.
The total annual revenue of the pharmaceutical companies behind opioid production numbers is in the billions but any amount that they’ve paid in the form of fines or damages only constitutes a tiny fraction of that.
Some of the plaintiffs are the state of Ohio which sued five opioid manufacturers and its subsidiaries within its borders, and the Cherokee Nation, which sued several distributors and pharmacies including CVS, Walgreens & Wal-Mart for their roles in supplying opioid pills.
Not only do the lawsuits hinge on the misrepresentation of the dangers of opioids but also on the gross overdistribution of pills in contrast to the total local population. This practice is widespread but one particularly glaring instance took place in West Virginia. In the town of Kermit, with a population of only 392, the sole pharmacy received more than nine million pills over the course of two years from out-of-state pharmaceutical companies.