As you may be aware, there has been a widespread effort to hold drug makers accountable for the crisis of opioid overdoses and abuse that has been plaguing our nation for years. Opioids, a category that includes prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetics such as fentanyl, are responsible for the deaths of nearly 48,000 Americans last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs of treatment, overdose antidotes, ambulance runs, incarceration expenses, and addressing a growing homeless crisis related to addiction have placed a significant financial burden on taxpayers. So far, more than 1,400 plaintiffs have had their federal cases consolidated under a single judge. These plaintiffs include county and local governments, hospitals, Native American tribes and individuals. Hundreds of others have also filed suit in state courts. A federal Judge based in Cleveland, Dan Polster, has been pushing the parties to reach a settlement. However, an unforeseen complication has arisen in the form of how the expansive court case seeking to hold drug makers responsible for the nation's opioid crisis will deal with claims covering the thousands of babies who were born dependent on the drugs.
150,000 Born in Withdraw
According to Scott Bickford, a lead lawyer for the children and their guardians, babies born in a drug-dependent state have been directly harmed by the actions of drug makers and are entitled to their own payments that are separated from current legal actions against many drug makers. Bickford said more than 150,000 babies were born in opioid withdrawal from 2012-16, and that this number increases every year. Initial hospital stays for babies born to an opioid-addicted mother can cost up to $250,000 more than for other infants born without complications. Additionally, opioid dependent babies often require more complicated medical services during their first year of life and they also incur a proportionally greater demand for legal representation and foster care as they get older. There is also the need “to address their developmental and learning problems,” Bickford said in a recent interview, adding “a lot of them have organ problems. A lot of them have problems we don’t even know about.” Drug manufacturers and distributors oppose creating a new structure for the lawsuits over the children, and many judges on the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation hearing the matter wondered what good such additional legislation would do.
Relevant Bible Passages
The depths to which our nation has fallen into drug dependency is truly shocking. The Bible warns us that – unfortunately – issues such as rampant drug addiction will only increase. In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul warned that the desires of the flesh included drug abuse! Paul warned, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, KJV). Most interesting in this list is the word witchcraft. This is translated from the Greek word pharmakeia. This word, which sounds like our English word pharmacy, carries the connotation of poisoning and the use of drugs. With an estimated 18.9 million Americans abusing drugs and alcohol every year we must very seriously consider the Bible’s warnings that an increasing number of people “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21)!