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Pharmaceutical companies face lawsuits over opiate epidemic

When a drug dealer gives someone a drug and that person later dies, the authorities can and sometimes do pursue murder charges against that person. One question some people have is why pharmaceutical companies haven't faced charges and penalties for drug dealing themselves.

Three prosecutors in Tennessee are doing just that, aiming their lawsuit at the pharmaceutical companies that provided opiates to millions. The attorneys are representing nine counties in Tennessee and aim to make pharmaceutical companies pay for their role in the current opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit addresses the pharmaceutical companies not as drugmakers but instead as drug dealers who knew the risks of opiates. Despite knowing those risks, the drugmakers then pushed the drugs as a way to cure pain.

The prosecution is focusing on accounts of alleged fraud and marketing practices they call deceptive. They believe the marketing used by these individuals led to many people becoming addicted to drugs that were once designed to help them cope with serious pain and injuries.

In Tennessee, there are more opiate prescriptions written for patients per capita than anywhere else in the United States except for West Virginia. In Sullivan County, the drug abuse has gotten so out of hand that a broadcaster has created a reality show about it using the local law enforcement agents.

This is not the first time someone has sued a pharmaceutical company. The Cherokee Nation and Washington State both filed lawsuits in the past.

Can a pharmaceutical company be held accountable for the actions of patients? It is yet to be seen, but it is clear that those who abuse drugs or sell drugs are being focused on by the state's law enforcement and legal activists.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, "Tennessee counties slap Big Pharma with lawsuit over opioid epidemic costs," Jamie Satterfield, June 13, 2017

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