What Damages Can I Seek in a Suboxone Lawsuit?

Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction and pain, has been linked to serious dental injuries of the teeth and gums. Thousands of victims have now filed a Suboxone lawsuit against several major manufacturers of the drug to recover compensation for their dental injuries.

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What Is the Basis of the Suboxone Lawsuits in Illinois?

Due to thousands of serious dental injuries reported by people receiving Suboxone, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) launched an investigation into the drug’s safety for consumers. The FDA received many complaints of severe dental injuries from people using Suboxone treatments for opioid addiction and related pain. The FDA investigation shows a concerning link between the use of Suboxone and severe dental problems that include the following:

  • Tooth decay and tooth loss
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Gum bleeding and gum disease
  • Exposed dentin in the teeth
  • Tongue lesions and discoloration
  • Chewing difficulties

Because Suboxone is administered to patients through a film that dissolves under the tongue or between the cheek and gums, it has the potential to cause damage to the teeth and gums. Directions must be followed closely to ensure that patients receive the correct dosage and the film dissolves completely. The FDA is warning people of serious dental problems that have been reported with medicines containing buprenorphine, the key ingredient in Suboxone, that are dissolved in the mouth.

The FDA reports on Suboxone use show that severe tooth decay, tooth loss, cavities, and oral infections have occurred in patients with no previous history of dental issues. The FDA has classified buprenorphine and all drugs that contain buprenorphine as Schedule III drugs. This indicated that Suboxone has an accepted medical use and a moderate potential for misuse and personal injury. Typically, Schedule III drugs are prescribed for pain management, anesthesia, and appetite suppression.

What Are the Legal Grounds for Seeking Damages?

People who are injured by Suboxone treatments are filing lawsuits because they developed serious dental problems after using Suboxone. Lawsuits that have been filed claim that Indivior (the manufacturer of Suboxone) knew or should have known about the risks of dental injuries, but failed to warn medical providers and consumers. Many Suboxone lawsuits claim deceptive marketing practices.

The FDA reports that the use of buprenorphine-containing medicines that are dissolved in the mouth has increased over the past few years. In 2014, the estimated number of prescriptions for medicines containing buprenorphine that were dispensed from U.S. outpatient retail and mail-order pharmacies was 11 million. In 2020, that number jumped to 16 million.

In 2022, the FDA publicly announced its findings on Suboxone and other medicines containing buprenorphine that dissolve in the mouth. They issued safety warnings for the use of Suboxone and warnings for potential dental problems. They also added a new warning label to the drug’s prescribing information and made the patient medication guide a requirement.

Types of Damages Available in Suboxone Lawsuits in Illinois

In 2019, Indivior pleaded guilty to felony charges associated with Suboxone’s deceptive marketing practices and agreed to pay $600 million to resolve criminal and civil liabilities. Allegedly, Indivior deceived physicians and health plan providers by claiming that Suboxone was safer and less susceptible to abuse than similar drugs on the market. As a result, class action lawyers in Illinois and other states around the country saw a significant increase in class action lawsuits as well as Suboxone lawsuits filed in civil court to recover damages for injuries. Generally, the lawsuits that did proceed to civil court were resolved through a Suboxone settlement agreement between both parties.

If you currently have or have had dental problems following the use of prescription Suboxone film, you may qualify to file a Suboxone lawsuit. Class action lawsuits are designed to hold companies accountable for misleading and deceiving their customers. When a group of individuals shares a common grievance or legal claim against a particular party, they can choose to pursue a class action lawsuit rather than a civil lawsuit with a court trial. A class action lawsuit permits a large number of people with similar claims to collectively seek justice for a wrongful action.

If you want to take part in a class action lawsuit, knowing if you’re eligible is important. First, if you are an eligible class member, you will receive a notice by mail or email. The notice will provide a detailed description of the lawsuit and explain your available options. In most cases, eligible class members for class action lawsuits are not required to take any action, they are automatically eligible. In some cases, members may need to complete and file a claim form to join, but this is rare. Generally, you can qualify for a Suboxone lawsuit if:

  • You have been prescribed Suboxone for opioid addiction
  • You have been prescribed Suboxone for pain management
  • You used prescription Suboxone for at least 6 months before your injuries were diagnosed
  • You have one or more of the following injuries: Cavities, tooth decay, tooth fractures; tooth loss, gum injuries, and tongue injuries
  • You maintained routine dental care prior to using Suboxone

When a class action case resolves through a class action lawsuit, the lawyer who is handling the case will receive a payment for his or her legal services, then class members will receive a percentage of the total amount awarded. Two types of damages may be awarded: compensatory damages and punitive damages. While compensatory damages are intended to compensate for actual losses, punitive damages aim to punish the defendant for wrongdoing.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are awarded to reimburse victims for actual losses they have suffered due to the negligence or improper actions of another party. These damages usually include payment for the injured party’s medical expenses, future expenses resulting from the injury, loss of current or future income, property damage, and litigation expenses.

General damages may also be awarded to cover subjective losses such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, disfigurement, long-term medical care, loss of consortium, and shortened life expectancy.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in legal claims for the sole reason of punishment for negligent actions or wrongdoing. These types of damages are typically applied in cases that involve companies or large entities that have acted negligently and caused harm to people. Punitive damages are often awarded in cases that involve, defective medical devices, medical malpractice, and product liability.

What happens if you miss a class action lawsuit? If a class action settles, and you don’t claim your payment by the settlement deadline, the money may be distributed between the remaining class members, donated to a charitable organization, or returned to the defendant. If you miss a class action lawsuit or do not claim your portion of the settlement award by the deadline, you should contact a class action lawyer about filing a civil lawsuit or other ways to collect damages.

What Factors Impact the Amount of Damages in a Suboxone Lawsuit?

Average lawsuit and settlement awards for Suboxone injuries range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the specifics of each case. The factors that determine the payment awarded to injury victims include the specific details of the case, the severity of dental damages, and the monetary worth of those damages.

Severity of the Plaintiff’s Injuries

According to reports from the FDA, the severity of a person’s injuries from using Suboxone can vary depending on the person’s general health, age, and length of time that Suboxone is used.

Since buprenorphine was approved, the FDA has identified 305 cases of dental problems (131 cases classified as serious) with buprenorphine medicines dissolved in the mouth. Of the 305 cases noted, 113 showed that two or more teeth were impacted. The most common treatments for Suboxone dental problems included tooth extraction/removal (in 71 cases) and root canals, dental surgery, crowns, and dental implants (in 234 cases). The average age of the patients was 42 years, but patients as young as 18 years also suffered severe dental injuries. The majority of injuries were found in patients using Suboxone for opioid addiction, however, dental problems were also found in patients using it to treat pain.

Impact of Suboxone Usage on the Plaintiff’s Life

Long-term Suboxone use causes a myriad of medical issues including fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depression, insomnia, night sweats, and joint and muscle pain. These side effects can last for several weeks or several months. Some people who use Suboxone claim that getting off Suboxone is more difficult than getting off heroin or OxyContin because unlike an intensely painful 5-7 day or 14 day detox from opiates, Suboxone can stay in the body for up to 8 or 9 days. Patients describe getting off Suboxone as an intensely painful situation that causes long-term physical concerns as well as debilitating psychological problems that impact their lives for years. 

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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