Appalachian area hospitals file opioid suit

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Twenty-six hospitals in Tennessee, including several in our area plus more in southwest Virginia, have filed a civil lawsuit in Greene County Circuit Court against the manufacturers, distributors and retails of opioid-based drugs.

As the opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels especially in the Appalachian region, the lawsuit alleges hospitals in Tennessee and Virginia have provided massive amounts of care for which they have received little or no reimbursement.

In the greater Knoxville area, Tennova Healthcare at Turkey Creek and in North Knoxville is part of the suit.

Attorney Gary Brewer is representing the hospitals.

“The negligent marketing efforts and deceptive narratives used by the defendants substantially contributed to an explosion in the use of opioids across the country – and the effects continue to be felt in hospitals every day,” Brewer said. “Hospitals continue to provide heroic levels of care to opioid-addicted patients and have saved countless lives. But the financial, operational and emotional expense for hospitals, especially struggling rural hospitals, is astonishing. The defendants bear tremendous responsibility for the crisis they created.”

This suit takes aim at opioid manufacturers including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories.

The lawsuit is wide-spread.

Tennessee experienced a record number of deaths from opioid use each year:

  • 2016 – 1,186 deaths
  • 2017 – 1,268 deaths

A 2019 study by economists at the University of Tennessee found that providers in Tennessee write 1.4 opioid prescriptions each year for every man, woman and child in the state.

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