Prescription Pill Abuse and Lawsuits

It had to happen. Lawsuits are cropping up as a result of the prescription pill abuse epidemic, and a lot of people are clapping. And watching and waiting for more.

First, in a follow up to a post I wrote about a New York pharmacy robbed in June, in whiThumbnail image for Argue with judge.jpgch several people died – a victim’s husband is suing, well, pretty much everybody: “David Laffer victim's family files $20M suit.”  The husband is suing the pharmacy owner for not protecting customers, the county police department, the pharmacist who sold Laffer’s wife (the driver) pills, drug manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, and even his father-in–law for spending the money he supposedly collected for a foundation for the dead woman’s children. (The father-in-law maintained he used it for his daughter’s funeral costs. I saw that on the TV news.)

"I think all this could have been prevented if people did their jobs," Miranda Malone [the daughter of the woman who died] said. "Everyone who is a part of this should suffer the consequences."

The family’s lawyer said this is the first lawsuit of its kind. He recalled that someone tried a legal theory like this one to sue gun manufacturers, which wasn’t successful, but he sounded hopeful about this family’s “because of the nature of drug addiction, which drives some people to do whatever is necessary to get more drugs, including commit crimes.” Other attorneys were pro and con on whether or not the family would win the lawsuit.

Laffer, by the way, is serving five life terms for the murders, with no possibility of parole. His wife is serving 25 years. The last time I saw him on TV, he was finally remorseful. Of course, all the drugs were out of his system and he’d had time to think while sober for the first time in probably a long time.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is also starting lawsuits over this epidemic. The Partnership at Drugfree.org, a well-known “drug abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resource site,” recently posted from an article in the Wall Street Journal about the DEA charging four pharmacies and a health care company “with violating their licenses to sell controlled drugs.”

Who knows where actions like this will lead and if they will really make any difference?  When doctors see that their colleagues who are prescribing pills illegally are paying a stiff price, will they think twice about doing it themselves? Of course, there’s an unfortunate side to all this, too. I’ve read comments from more than one professional who are concerned about what it will mean for people who really need the pain control these pills provide.

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