Mobile, Ala. (WPMI) — Infirmary Health of Mobile is one of three original plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit aiming to represent 5,000 hospitals across the country.
The federal lawsuit accuses several major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors of conspiring to break the law and lie to doctors about the dangers of opioids and the supply of painkillers.
Mobile law firm Taylor Martino, P.C. is on the legal team representing the plaintiffs and so is Mississippi attorney Don Barrett who successfully battled Big Tobacco in court.
Barrett says, "This battle, this epidemic, fighting this epidemic, I think it’s the most important legal and social struggle that’s gone on in the United States since the tobacco wars of the 1990s."
He adds, "The difference – one difference is it takes 25 or 30 or 40 years to develop cigarette-related illnesses. Overdoses kill you overnight. So there’s an immediacy and the American public has waked up quicker."
While the tobacco companies were eventually forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, none of that money went to hospitals because they were not part of the case. The money instead went to state governments involved in the case.
This time, Barrett is representing hospitals that he says have suffered billions of dollars in losses dealing with overdoses and opioid addicts created by Big Pharma's practices.
"The tobacco industry, there’s nothing that they do except kill you, but the pharmaceutical industry, they’re supposed to be about helping people and saving lives, not killing 33,000 people a year and creating untold misery all over the United States."