What is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?

NAS occurs in new-born babies who have been exposed to high levels of prescription drugs in the womb. When mothers take drugs during pregnancy, the substance passes through the placenta and into the baby. Unborn babies consume what their mothers consume. An addicted mother will lead to an addicted baby. Once the baby is outside of the womb and they are no longer being given the drug, they will experience the same withdrawal symptoms as any other drug addict. The problem is that their tiny and undeveloped bodies cannot cope with the shock of this chemical dependency, which leads to persistent irritation and pain in the baby and serious damage to their organs.

The Common Symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Withdrawal symptoms may start within 24 hours of the baby’s birth. Some babies experience problems a week or more after their birth. The symptoms will vary depending on the type of drug used by the mother, the number of drugs she has taken, the length of time she used during the pregnancy, and whether the baby was born at full-term or prematurely. Genetic factors can also determine when a baby starts to exhibit signs of withdrawal. Premature babies have a lower risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms but may have other problems because they were born before the full term.

Opioid Addiction Causes Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Infants who have been exposed to opioids in the womb are at risk of developing symptoms of opioid dependence and withdrawal.

Who is at Risk?

Infants who have been exposed to opioids in the womb are at risk of developing symptoms of opioid dependence and withdrawal.

Side Effects of NAS

  • Body shakes
  • Seizures
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Tight muscle tone
  • Excessive crying
  • Poor feeding
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever
  • Sweating or blotchy skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Clogged nose

Class Action Suits Filed

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against drug companies that produce opioids. Suits have been filed in California, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, and West Virginia. All these suits have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation to be overseen by a federal judge. There are currently an estimated 2,000 qualified retainers pending in this MDL.

NAS suits have been filed on behalf of new-born babies that have suffered health and developmental problems as a result of their exposure to opioids. In February of 2018, a class action was filed in Louisiana on behalf of children who were born addicted to opioids. The defendants in this suit include manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies. That same year saw the filing of a lawsuit in Philadelphia that alleges the aggressive and unscrupulous marketing techniques of the pharmaceutical companies started the opioid crisis.

May 2007

Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to misleading the public about Oxycontin’s risk of addiction and pays a $634.5 million fine.

December 2015

Purdue Pharma agrees to settle Oxycontin lawsuits in Kentucky by paying $24 million settlement over 8 years.

December 2016

Cardinal Health agrees to $44 million settlement for alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act in Maryland, Florida, and New York.

January 2017

Cardinal Health agrees to pay West Virginia a $20 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit over the company’s distribution of controlled substances in the state. Costco Wholesale is ordered by the United States Department of Justice to pay $11.75 million to settle allegations that its pharmacies improperly filled prescriptions for controlled substances, thus violating the Controlled Substances Act.

February 2018

A class action lawsuit is filed in Louisiana on behalf of children who were born addicted to opioids.

August 2018

The CDC reported that the number of pregnant women addicted to opioids significantly increased in the 15 years since 1999.

January 2019

Nearly 2,000 lawsuits from California, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, and West Virginia are consolidated into multidistrict litigation to be overseen by a federal judge.

May 2019

McKesson Corp. agrees to pay $37 million to resolve a West Virginia opioid lawsuit.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announces a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, claiming the company aided the opioid epidemic through its sales of OxyContin.

August 2019

An Oklahoma judge orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million in an opioid lawsuit after being accused of deceptively marketing painkillers and aiding the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.

September 2019

Purdue Pharma agrees to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits by paying $3 billion over seven years.

October 2019

Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay a $20.4 million settlement to resolve opioid lawsuits in Ohio.

References

March of Dimes. “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)”, March of Dimes, Accessed August 9, 2019.

The Recovery Village. “Long-Term Effects of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome”, The Recovery Village, Accessed August 9, 2019.

Stanford’s Children Health. “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome”, Stanford’s Children Health, Accessed August 9, 2019.

Sara Randazzo. “In the Opioid Litigation, It’s Now States v. Cities”, The Wall Street Journal, Accessed August 9, 2019.

WebMD. “Opioid (Narcotic) Pain Medications”, WebMD, Accessed August 9, 2019.

Harry Nelson. “The Opioid Litigation: Settlements, Winners, and Losers”, Forbes, Accessed August 9, 2019.

CDC. “Prescription Opioid Data”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed August 9, 2019.

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