The Challenges of Proving Causation in Suboxone Lawsuits

Suboxone has been a lifeline for many struggling with opioid dependence. This medication effectively curbs cravings and withdrawal symptoms, aiding the path to recovery. However, there are also over 500 lawsuits pending that raised concerns about a potential side effect: dental problems. Plaintiffs claim that Reckitt Benckiser (now Indivior) minimized risks of dental damage while launching their Suboxone sublingual strips. Yet, one of the most significant hurdles for these plaintiffs is proving causation—establishing a direct link between Suboxone and the harm they claim to have suffered. This blog delves into the complexities of establishing causation in these cases. It aims to explore the hurdles plaintiffs face and offer strategies to build a strong legal argument.

The Concerns of Proving Specific Causation

Research shows Suboxone can decidedly cause dental issues, thus establishing a solid general causation. Yet, each case needs specific causation, showing Suboxone particularly caused your dental problems. This involves thoroughly examining your dental records to establish a timeline linking Suboxone use to the onset of these issues.Proving Suboxone to be the reason for your dental problems can be difficult due to three reasons:

  • Individual variation: Suboxone affects everyone differently. Dosage, treatment duration, genetics, and preexisting conditions complicate identifying a clear cause of health issues related to Suboxone use.Multiple culprits: People on Suboxone dosage often have interactions caused by other medications or health issues. Validating Suboxone as the sole cause is tricky because these other factors could also be responsible for the dental problems.Expert testimony: The Daubert Standard, used in federal and many state courts, requires expert testimony to be based on scientific validation. It should be grounded on reasoning and methodology.

  • The Broader Landscape of Suboxone Lawsuits Beyond Causation

While proving causation is the primary obstacle, it’s not the only challenge in a Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit. Here are other considerations that can influence your case:

Proving the Severity of Dental Damage

Not all dental problems are created in the same way. The extent of the damage you’ve experienced directly affects potential settlements. Extensive tooth decay, multiple extractions, or severe gum disease likely lead to higher compensation compared to minor issues.

Establishing the Real Compensation Amount

The aim of a lawsuit isn’t just to establish blame, but also to recover damages. According to TruLaw, this includes the financial burden of dental treatments necessitated by Suboxone use. Additionally, the pain, discomfort, and potential emotional distress caused by these dental problems can be factored into compensation. 

Statute of Limitations

There’s another layer of complexity in Suboxone lawsuits: the time limit to file a claim. Some states have recently enacted stricter statutes of limitations, like Florida’s Bill 837. This law cuts the window for personal injury lawsuits, including those against Suboxone’s manufacturer, from four years to two. Missing this deadline can imply Losing your entitlement to compensation. 

Building a Strong Case for the Suboxone Litigation

Proving Indivior’s negligence is the core difficulty in a Suboxone lawsuit. The drug (Suboxone) has been approved by the FDA, which complicates claims that it is inherently unsafe. In June 2022, the FDA mandated tooth decay warnings for Suboxone labels, prompted by over 300 reports of dental damage. The defense can argue that plaintiffs were adequately informed, using labeling that includes warnings about potential risks. However, these warnings on their label appeared only after 2022, followed by the FDA’s warning. Therefore, in the current Suboxone MDL, you’ll need to demonstrate that you took Suboxone as prescribed by a doctor. Additionally, you must show this occurred before 2022 when the medication’s label did not have warnings about dental risks. Employ a dual-track discovery approach by gathering evidence that Suboxone uniquely harmed you. At the same time, demonstrate research on Suboxone’s potential to cause dental problems in general. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Suboxone is technically an opioid, and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies opioids as narcotics. However, when people commonly refer to narcotics, they often mean substances that produce a high and are frequently abused. Although Suboxone is used in opioid addiction treatment, its formulation includes naloxone to block the euphoric effects. Therefore, while it is technically a narcotic, Suboxone’s design and purpose aim to prevent misuse rather than promote it.

    Suboxone, a medication considered to treat opioid dependency, has been associated with dental problems, particularly when administered as dissolvable strips. The main contributing factors to dental issues from Suboxone include its acidic nature and the application method. Suboxone has a low pH of 3.4, making it very acidic. Its frequent dosages expose teeth to acidic substances, causing tooth decay.

    A two-active ingredient drug, Suboxone contains buprenorphine, an opioid, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist (blocker). Buprenorphine acts as a narcotic to help manage opioid addiction. On the other hand, naloxone is included to counteract the effects of the opioid. Hence, the latter reduces the potential for misuse and abuse of Suboxone. 

    At present, there are approximately 500 ongoing product liability lawsuits targeting the manufacturers of Suboxone. These litigations assert that manufacturers did not give ample warnings. They are concerned about the risk of tooth decay from using Suboxone, prescribed for opioid addiction. Proving causation in Suboxone lawsuits is difficult, requiring strong scientific evidence, compelling expert testimony, and strategic legal tactics. While these hurdles are critical, they are not insurmountable, especially with seasoned legal help.

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