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Opioids and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Lawsuits

* WE ARE NO LONGER INVESTIGATING THESE CLAIMS. *

The dramatic rise in opioid use has triggered a public health crisis in the United States. Various opioid drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and methadone have been systematically over-prescribed and over-used for decades. Among those affected by opioid addiction, one of the most vulnerable populations is infants.

Recent studies have shown that infants are at serious risk of serious side effects such as:

  • Withdrawal symptoms, including Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

Opioid Lawyers are Ready to Help

Contact our Opioid Lawyers to review whether you or a family member may be entitled to financial compensation. Levy Konigsberg LLP is currently accepting Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has suffered one or more of these complications, you may be entitled to a cash award and compensation for medical expenses. For a free confidential consultation with Opioid Lawyers at our law firm, please call (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

Symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2018 that the number of pregnant women addicted to opioids more than quadrupled in 15 years since 1999. In some states, the rate of opioid-addicted women who gave birth to babies rose exponentially. (The rate in West Virginia increased 53-fold). According to data from 28 states, 6.5 out of every 1000 deliveries in 2014 involved mothers with an opioid addiction. In addition to the pain and discomfort these infants suffer in the early months of their lives, the complications resulting from opioid addiction in pregnant women are likely to cause long-term health problems for these infants as they develop into children and adults.

What follows after these births is a complex, long, painful syndrome known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS occurs when an infant is forced to withdraw from drugs. When the mother uses drugs during pregnancy, the substances pass through the bloodstream to the fetus. The fetus becomes addicted and this dependence persists upon birth. When the infant is no longer receiving the drug after birth, he begins to experience withdrawal. In particular, heroin, methadone, and other opiates can lead to substantial withdrawal symptoms in infants which can last from four to six months.

The abrupt discontinuation of opioid exposure results in a host of symptoms including: irritability, excessive crying, trembling, difficulty sleeping, seizures, tight muscles, vomiting, dehydration, poor feeding, fever, sweating and inadequate weight gain. These symptoms can range from moderate to severe depending on the type of substance the mother uses and whether the baby is born full-term. Full term infants experience the most severe symptoms and recover more slowly. The health of these infants may continue to be impaired well into the future. Opioid addicted infants are at risk of developing other conditions such as poor growth, depression, behavioral and language difficulties, cognitive abnormalities and Attention Deficit Disorder. The startling reality is that opioid addiction in infants may trigger a lifetime of mental and physical health issues for themselves and their families. Experts concede that we do not know how extensive these impairments will be as the affected children grow into teens and adults.

Treatment and Costs of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Treatment for children with NAS depends on a number of factors including the severity of the disease and the overall health of the infant. Some infants require medications to address the withdrawal symptoms such as seizures. Medication can also alleviate pain and discomfort suffered by the infants and is administered in decreasing doses to wean the infant. The costs of treating opioid addicted babies have skyrocketed. It is estimated that hospital expenses for the treatment of a baby with NAS is $150,000 compared to $3,500 for babies who do not have NAS – and that’s just the cost associated with immediate hospital care. Estimates for the long-term care of babies addicted to opioids can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a lawsuit being brought on behalf of children who suffered the ravages of opioid addiction as infants, caregivers estimate that the first year of life can cost as much as $250,000. Once the child gets older, these costs continue to mount due to hospital visits, specialists, therapies and counseling.

Liability for Opioid Addiction

There are many parties who may be deemed responsible for the dire consequences of opioid addictions in infants. Drug manufacturers and distributors failed to inform the public about the risks of continued opioid use and ignored the widespread epidemic of people taking opioids for unauthorized uses. Opioid manufacturers have consistently promoted opioids as non-addictive substances and marketed the drugs even after it was evident that opioids were highly addictive and led to a significant number of deaths.

Lawsuits on behalf of opioid users have already been filed in in different courts across the country. Many of these lawsuits are concentrated in federal court in Ohio. Others are taking place in state courts to recoup costs for the massive epidemic; since May, 2018, 16 states have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of various pain killers for conducting misleading campaigns that contributed to opioid abuse. While much of the litigation targets manufacturers, others have directed their claims toward a broader class of perpetrators including multiple parties in the chain of production (such as distributors, retailers, and prescribing physicians).

Now the litigation has focused on the plight of the most unwitting victims of opioid addiction – the infants who display the signs of NAS. Lawsuits on behalf of infants with NAS have been brought in Ohio and in various other states against major pharmaceutical companies and distributors based largely on the same theories as lawsuits brought by states and consumers. According to the lawsuits, children who were diagnosed with NAS have experienced learning disabilities, vision and hearing problems, birth defects and behavioral issues. The lawsuits also alleges that a mother’s opioid use during pregnancy can result in future physical, emotional, and mental impairment.

Opioid Lawyers are Ready to Help

Contact our Opioid Lawyers to review whether you or a family member may be entitled to financial compensation. Levy Konigsberg LLP is currently accepting Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has suffered one or more of these complications, you may be entitled to a cash award and compensation for medical expenses. For a free confidential consultation with Opioid Lawyers at our law firm, please call (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

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