The United States is suffering from a prescription opioid epidemic, the likes of which has never been seen before. This guide is intended to provide information to health insurers about getting money back from opioid manufacturers and distributors.
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC COSTS HEALTH INSURERS AND THEIR PATIENTS MILLIONS... CAN THEY GET THAT MONEY BACK?
The United States is suffering from a prescription opioid epidemic, the likes of which has never been seen before. In the late 1980s, when I was in medical school, I was correctly taught that opioids were addictive and dangerous pain relieving medications which should be used in very limited situations. I was taught that opiate pain relievers were only to be used for short-term treatment of severe acute pain like that experienced immediately following surgery or for long-term palliative (end-of-life) care in cancer patients. My respected medical school professors and fellow students did not question these ethical and wise standards. Recognizing the huge profits that can be made from these addictive substances, the opioid manufacturers and distributors have systematically eroded such established and respected views and created a demand for opiates from patients and their physicians.
Many people wrongly believe that those who suffer from opiate abuse and die from opiate overdoses are heroin addicts and abusers of other illegal street drugs. Those beliefs may have been true decades ago, but currently the majority of opiate abusers are abusing prescription opiates. The prescription opiates causing the physical, economic, and social devastation are made by largescale pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributed by billion-dollar wholesalers, prescribed by licensed healthcare providers, and sold by pharmacies. The only true link to heroin and the current opiate epidemic is that most of today's heroin users abused prescription opiates before turning to heroin to feed their addiction.
This guide not only discusses the damage done by prescription opiates and the resulting financial drain on California's health insurers and healthcare organizations (both private insurers and workman's compensation insurers), but how these companies can recover that money from opiate manufacturers and distributors by filing civil actions.
PRESCRIPTION OPIATES DRAIN YOUR BUDGET AND YOUR RESOURCES
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription opioids (including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone) have more than quadrupled since 1999. In 2014, opioid poisoning accounted for 92,262 visits to emergency rooms. Currently, 91 Americans die every day from an opiate overdose. Healthcare providers are prescribing an opiate (usually an 18-day supply) for one out of five Americans. The CDC states, "During 2015, an estimated 12,462,000 persons aged 12 years or older in the U.S. misused prescription pain relievers in the past year, with an estimated rate of 4.7 per 100 persons."
Every time an opioid user ends up in an emergency department as a result of an overdose, he or she is likely to incur a substantial bill for the care provided in the field (resuscitative measures, naloxone), the paramedic transportation, the care in the emergency room (physicians, staff, medications, laboratory tests and other diagnostics, admission), and the outpatient care (rehabilitation, detoxification, counseling). This major expense cuts into your budgets and forces you to pass a portion of the costs on to your patients. The higher premiums resulting from treating opioid abuse do not reflect a higher quality of insurance product to those other patients.
According to a Kaiser healthcare article, in 2015 the average cost of care per opioid admission was $92,400.00. What this number does not seem to take into account are the additional financial costs of post hospitalization counseling and rehabilitation. The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the cost of buprenorphine (a medication used to treat opioid abuse) at $5,980.00 per year. The additional costs of treating the medical and psychiatric diseases that are associated with opioid abuse are also substantial. Opioid abuse is associated with infectious diseases, liver and kidney failure, and psychiatric impairment.
Fortunately, the civil legal system can provide financial recovery from the manufacturers and distributors of opiates, because these corporations negligently and recklessly marketed these drugs with the intent of making huge profits despite damage to human lives. A successful lawsuit can recover your financial losses and prevent future unnecessary expense. Your stockholders and your patients will appreciate your aggressive actions in getting their money back.
CIVIL LAWSUITS CAN GET YOUR MONEY BACK
"There is no fee if there is no recovery." "There is no reimbursement of litigation expenses if there is no recovery." These two sentences will be written, in boldface type, in every retainer agreement an insurance company client will sign when it decides to bring a lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers and distributors through Fransen & Molinaro, LLP and their associate attorneys. These contractually binding statements mean that there are zero upfront costs to the client.
This important fact should not be overlooked, because it means that the enormous litigation costs will be completely advanced by the attorneys and not come from your company's budget. This fact also means that there is no risk of financial loss to your company. Even if a suit is unsuccessful, no reimbursement will be sought by your attorneys. The retainer agreement will also state that, upon recovery, the lawyers will be paid thirty percent (30%) of the gross recovery plus reimbursement for litigation expenses. Considering that many personal injury attorneys charge forty percent of the gross recovery for simple automobile accident cases, the thirty percent contingent recovery rate is quite reasonable.
Another advantage to hiring Fransen & Molinaro, LLP and its associate attorneys is less obvious. Fransen & Molinaro, LLP and its associate attorneys are not new to litigation against billion-dollar corporations. Their experience in handling cases against the manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceuticals and medical devices means that litigation expenses will be kept low as a result of efficient discovery techniques and trial methods. This means that the costs, for which each individual client is responsible will be based only on work that was necessary. Our experience and track make us the right choice.
THE LEGAL TEAM
Aggressively, efficiently, and successfully litigating complex cases against companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars requires a legal team of experienced law firms with seasoned trial attorneys who also have the financial ability to advance the millions of dollars that will be needed. Fransen & Molinaro, LLP is working with a team of law firms that meet these criteria.
One member of the team is the law firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty Proctor P.A. This firm has been handling mass tort, medical device, and pharmaceutical cases for decades. In 2004, Mike Papantonio helped launch a nationwide organization called Mass Torts Made Perfect. This organization holds annual conferences for the top personal injury attorneys and teaches them successful litigation strategies to use against multi-national corporations.
The team approach is well-suited to handle the representation of insurance companies and healthcare organizations in litigation against billion-dollar international companies like Purdue Pharma, McKesson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Mallinckrodt, Janssen, Endo Health Solutions, Cephalon, Watson, Allergen, Johnson & Johnson, and others. The team will pool resources, work more efficiently, and replicate successful strategies. They know how to bring lawsuits designed to hold billion-dollar international companies responsible for the damages their opioids cause.
If you are a California insurance company or healthcare organization, Fransen & Molinaro, LLP wants to work with you to sue the corporations that have ruined countless lives and financially drained your company. These corporations need to be held accountable.
If you are a California insurance company or healthcare organization and would like more information about recovering money from opioid manufacturers and distributors, call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. for a free consultation. Paul is available to meet with you, speak at your meetings and conferences, answer questions, and explain what kinds of recovery may be available. Potential clients outside of California may also contact Paul for a referral. Paul can explain how insurance companies and healthcare organizations can retain private attorneys to file a contingent suit. Successful companies care for their customers and their stockholders. Getting money back from those responsible for its loss is part of that goal.
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