Opioid prescriptions have nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years, spurring the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history. Adults aren’t the only ones who have fallen victim to the opioid crisis.  As record numbers of women become dependent on prescribed painkillers, increasing numbers of babies are exposed to the drugs in utero, putting them at risk for developing painful and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Many are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), which causes sweating, vomiting, appetite loss and even convulsions.  Parents with children suffering from and/or diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome resulting from opioid use may have legal recourse.


Opioids include drugs like fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, and others and are often sold under brand names like OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, and a host of other names.  As the opioid crisis has raged across the country, it’s affected every level of our society. By recent estimates, an opioid-addicted baby is born in the U.S. every 19 minutes – more than 70 newborns facing drug withdrawal symptoms and potential developmental problems every day.


Women who become addicted to opioids while they’re pregnant are at risk of passing that addiction on to their child. The use of opiates during pregnancy increases a child’s risk of congenital heart problems, stunted growth, defects in the brain and spine, premature delivery, and even miscarriage. These children are at risk of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which in occurs in infants after they’ve been exposed to drugs in utero and are now suffering withdrawals. Many lay the responsibility on drug makers and distributors, who knowingly downplayed the risk of physical dependency on opioid painkillers.


There is vast information regarding the repercussions of opioid-abuse in adults, but comparatively little is known about the long-term impact on opioid withdrawal in infants. The symptoms of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) may begin just hours after birth or develop over the following days. The hallmark symptoms often include:

  • Relentless crying

  • Fever

  • Sweating

  • Tremors

  • Convulsions

  • Vomiting

  • Mottled skin

  • Lack of appetite

  • Dehydration

  • Diarrhea

  • Difficulty sleeting

Babies who are born to opioid-addicted mothers may be given morphine drops, sedatives or methadone to sooth and stop the symptoms of NAS and usually require lengthy and costly treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU, to obtain the appropriate round-the-clock medical care.  The long-term impact of NAS is not fully yet understood, but anecdotal evidence and preliminary research indicates the condition can lead to:

  • Developmental growth delays

  • Behavioral and cognitive problems

  • Development of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

  • Vision and hearing impairment

  • Motor development problems



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More than 1600 opioid lawsuits against drug makers and distributors are currently pending before Judge Dan Aaron Polster in the Northern District of Ohio. In theory, consolidating claims as multidistrict litigation (MDL 2804) will reduce costs and improve efficiency, but the massive opioid litigation is exceedingly complex with numerous defendants and a diverse group of plaintiffs, including states, cities, and Native American and local communities hit hard by the epidemic.  Judge Polster has set an aggressive trial schedule with the first bellwether trial set to begin in October 2019. Judge Polster has also informed both sides to prepare for settlement negotiations.  Plaintiffs in these cases argue that makers of prescription opioids misrepresented the addiction risks of long-term use and distributors failed to screen suspicious orders of these painkillers, contributing to America’s opioid crisis.


Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to warn the public and the medical community about the possibility of drug side effects, risks and the potential for addiction. Big Pharma stands accused of fueling the deadly opioid epidemic and utilizing deceptive marketing practices to peddle their drugs to millions of Americans.

Some of the opioid manufacturers facing litigation include:

  • Purdue Pharma

  • Actavis

  • Allergan

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Endo International

  • Pfizer

  • Teva Pharmaceutical

Drug companies like Purdue Pharma who manufacture, market, and sell OxyContin have been accused of misleading the public about the dangers associated with the long-term use of these drugs to treat chronic and severe pain. These drug makers advertised their products as being less addictive than they actually are.  They lied to us about the addictive nature of opioids and aggressively promoted physicians to prescribe them in excessive quantities.  Prescribing these drugs in high doses and for prolonged periods of time can lead to addiction and other devastating injuries. These include, among other adverse side effects, dependence, the craving to seek more drugs, use of other legal pain killers, use of other illegal drugs, and worst of all, overdose and death.


If you or a loved one became addicted to a prescription opioid, used an opioid during pregnancy and had a child born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) as a result of your addiction, contact us today. We want to hear your story. For more information, or to speak with someone about your potential case, please call us toll-free at 1.888.213.0761 or fill our free case review form.  FrancoLaw is experienced in handling drug injury cases and we welcome any questions you may have.