Opioid Epidemic: Should drug companies be held responsible?

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY – Should prescription pain medicine makers be held responsible for the opioid epidemic? Mark Bryant Law Firm in Paducah said Paducah and McCracken County leaders should sue pharmaceutical companies for damages.

Lawsuits have sprung up across the country accusing drug distributors of causing the crisis.

Sitting in a chapel, reflecting on the past, Kenny Samples said 10 years ago, he couldn’t imagine being where he is now —clean from drugs.

“I was very tired. I looked like a lost soul,” Samples said. “I tell everyone that was my first love affair. It was the first thing I fell in love with was pain medication.”

He has delt with a 20-year addiction. “I was addicted to everything: drinking, meth, opiates, heroin —which is an opiate, too.”

Many addicts say their first taste of opioids was prescribed by a doctor.

“I was in a wreck that was caused by alcohol when I was 17, and that was what introduced me to opiates. I was given 7.5 Lortabs,” Samples said. Lortab is a prescription pill that combines the non-opioid pain reliever acetaminophen and the opioid hydrocodone.

Attorney Mark Bryant said the distributors of prescription opioids should take responsibility. “We are all spending so much money in law enforcement to help people who get on opioids,” he said.

“The manufacturers and the distributors convinced these doctors that, through elaborate schemes, that these drugs were safe,” said David Bryant, Mark Bryant’s son and part of his law firm.

Samples knows just how easy it was to get addicted, because of how easy the drugs are to get. He said everyone is looking for a solution to the problem. He doesn’t know if a lawsuit will be it.

He did suggest that maybe the distributors could help pay for addicts’ recovery.

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance, which represents companies like McKesson, Amerisourcebergen, and Cardinal Health sent us this statement:

“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is a complex public health challenge that requires a collaborative and systemic response that engages all stakeholders,” wrote John Parker, senior vice president of Healthcare Distribution Alliance. “Given our role, the idea that distributors are responsible for the number of opioid prescriptions written defies common sense and lacks understanding of how the pharmaceutical supply chain actually works and is regulated. Those bringing lawsuits would be better served addressing the root causes, rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation.”

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