Since the turn of the century, the opioid overdose death rate in Florida has tripled, and in 2016, there were 4,672 deaths attributed to drug overdoses according to data from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. In 2017, Governor Scott and the state surgeon general announced a statewide public health emergency related to the opioid epidemic.
Now, hospitals are taking their own action against the Florida opioid crisis. Physicians Regional Healthcare System is just one of the 27 hospitals in Florida to have filed an opioid lawsuit. The hospitals are filing civil suits against the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of opioids, citing significant financial harm.
There are more than 30 companies, as well as individuals named in the lawsuit, filed in the Broward County Circuit Court. The suit includes allegations of negligence, fraud and conspiracy during the Florida opioid crisis.
Financial Burden of Crisis on Hospitals
Hospitals have been hit incredibly hard by the cost of the opioid crisis. An estimated $1.94 billion in yearly hospital costs was linked to patients who experienced an opioid overdose between October 2017 and 2018, nationwide. There were nearly 430,000 total visits to emergency departments, inpatient facilities and other care settings during that year-long period, and care just in emergency departments was more than $632 billion in hospital costs. Around 53% of patients were admitted and treated.
The average cost for someone who overdoses and receives treatment in the emergency department is $504, but that goes up to an average of $11,731 for patients who are treated and admitted to the facility. These aren’t exclusive Florida opioid statistics, but still indicate the heavy financial burden hospitals have faced as part of the cost of opioid treatment and the cost of the opioid crisis.
Manufacturers Involved in the Lawsuit
There were more than 30 companies as well as individuals named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit against opioid manufacturers includes companies like disgraced Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Abbot Laboratories, Cardinal Health and Endo Pharmaceuticals. Also named aside from opioid manufacturers are pharmacy chains, including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS and the Kroger Company.
The complaint was filed on September 16, but this was because of the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy that’s pending. More Florida hospitals can be added to the lawsuit as they come forward. Purdue Pharma recently filed for bankruptcy as part of its ongoing settlement with several states around the country, including Florida. The multi-billion-dollar agreement Purdue has made with Florida should help the state get access to more resources to combat the opioid epidemic.
Purdue Pharma is the company that created and aggressively marketed OxyContin, and in 2007 it paid out one of the highest fines ever against a pharmaceutical company for mislabeling that drug. The Purdue company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York, once described itself as a pioneer in the development of pain medications. Other pain medications made by the company include hydromorphone, fentanyl and hydrocodone.
Some of the hospitals included in the lawsuit include Tampa General Hospital, Bayfront Health, Venice Regional Bayfront Health, and south Florida hospitals.
If you or someone in your life is struggling with opioids, you aren’t alone. Treatment and resources are available. Contact Orlando Recovery Center for more information and to get the help you deserve.
Freeman, Liz. “More than two dozen Florida hospitals sue opioid makers, distributors and retailers.” Naples News, September 20, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.
Florida Health. “Florida Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance Program.” Updated September 12, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.
LaPointe, Jacqueline. “Opioid Overdose Care Totals $1.94B in Annual Hospital Costs.” Rev Cycle Intelligence, January 7, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.
Meier, Barry. “In Guilty Plea, OxyContin Maker to Pay $600 Million.” The New York Times, May 10, 2007. Accessed November 19, 2019.