Parents who are opioid addicts contribute to the worsening opioid epidemic by giving birth to babies who were already exposed to the addictive drug while still developing in their mother's womb.
Lawsuit May Protect Opiate-Dependent Children
A medical-legal team has decided to change this by filing the first lawsuit in the United States that may potentially protect opiate-dependent children. The suit was filed at a court in Louisiana, which has the highest Medicaid insurance claims in the country.
The lawsuit cited that one of every five mothers served by Medicaid consumed opioid at some point during their pregnancy.
The suit was filed against drug makers and distributors, which include Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, on behalf of a child identified as K.E.R.
The child was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, which happens when a baby is exposed to addictive drugs in the womb. After birth, babies with NAS go through drug withdrawal when they are removed from exposure to the addictive substance. The condition occurs when a woman takes opioids during pregnancy.
The child's mother was prescribed opioid painkiller to treat lower back pain linked to a car accident she had before her pregnancy. She became addicted to the drug and continued to use it even while pregnant with K.E.R.
Lawsuit Seeks Money To Cover Treatment Costs Of Children With NAS
The lawsuit seeks money to cover the long-term treatment of the child and others who were born suffering from opioid withdrawals. K.E.R. is now 3 years old and has went through speech, hearing, and behavioral therapy to manage the effects of opioid exposure in the womb.
The suit did not provide exact number of children in Louisiana who were born with NAS, but the legal team has estimates based on the number of Medicaid enrollees who used opioid during pregnancy.
"It is high time that the medical and legal communities stand up to demand comprehensive treatment and care for the most needy and vulnerable citizens of our great country," said Kanwaljeet J. S. Anand, from Stanford University School of Medicine, who plays a part in the team that filed the lawsuit.