Suboxone-Induced Dental Issues: The Current Legal Landscape


Suboxone is one of the most sought-after medicines to combat opioid dependency. This drug is noteworthy for its capacity to lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. This reduces an individual’s relapse tendencies. 

However, in the past few years, its side effects have weighed down its rise. An increasing number of Suboxone consumers have reported suffering from severe dental issues from prolonged consumption of Suboxone films. This triggered a wave of lawsuits against its manufacturers.

In this blog post, we will talk about the most recent developments in the realm of Suboxone lawsuits. 

The Suboxone Controversy in Detail

Suboxone is administered in the form of films (sublingual) and tablets. Just like your normal menthol strips, these films dissolve in the mouth and take around 20 to 45 minutes to act. 

How Does it Work?

Suboxone mimics and counteracts the effects of opioids with two active ingredients. Naloxone counteracts opioid effects (antagonist), while buprenorphine behaves like an opioid (partial agonist).

Their combination may appear counterproductive, but the brain effect of it is beneficial. Buprenorphine is an example of a partial opioid agonist; it satisfies brain opioid receptors without completely activating them. This reduces the withdrawal systems. 

Side Effects and the Aftermath

The acidic formulation of the medication can lead to severe dental complications including erosion, tooth loss, and tooth decay. For the affected, comprehensive dental interventions might be necessary to repair the harm. These treatments may comprise costly and intricate procedures like root canal therapy and dental implant placement. 

In addition to physical discomfort, dental issues might alter your appearance, lowering your self-esteem. These psychological and social ramifications can cause serious mental health issues. Moreover, for many people who were earlier opioid dependents, the cost of oral care might add to the financial stress. 

Most of the affected were not cognizant of the fact that their dental issues were a result of Suboxone use. This prevented timely intervention which could have mitigated the initial symptoms of dental decay. 

The angst of the victims is against the lack of warning from the manufacturers that Suboxone film can cause dental decay. 

What is the Lawsuit All About?

Suboxone was marketed and widely distributed as a safe medicine. Even the doctors prescribing the drug were confident of its efficacy and safety.

It was only when studies relating Suboxone to dental issues started coming out, that the affected got the answers to their years of dental pain. The Suboxone lawsuit reflects the common outrage that the victims were never told about the correct methods of oral administration. 

Moreover, the sufferers hold the manufacturers accountable for failing to apprise them of the severity of irreversible dental damage. The lawsuits also allege that the companies were aware of the associated dangers, but chose to prioritize their profits and not warn the consumers. 

These companies are now confronted with increasing legal and financial obligations for their negligence. 

The Current Status of the Lawsuits

TruLaw states that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has gathered more than twelve lawsuits concerning Suboxone-related dental decay, consolidating them into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) center located in the Northern District of Ohio.

The litigation has been entrusted to Judge J. Phillip Calabrese by the federal tribunal. Moreover, the initial petition to centralize was filed by the attorneys for the plaintiffs in November 2023. This implementation impacted fifteen cases across five districts. 

As of the issuance of the order on February 2, 2024, the new MDL currently comprises 26 cases.

Have There Been Any Settlements?

Back in 2019, the Department of Justice settled a major False Claims Act lawsuit. This paved the way for big payouts for states to reimburse Suboxone users who were overcharged. 

Indivior Inc., the company behind Suboxone, has been hit with a string of lawsuits. The organization entered into a settlement with forty-two states in June 2023. It agreed to remit $102.5 million to address allegations of anticompetitive conduct.

Moreover, in October 2023, Indivior Inc. shelled out a whopping $385 million to settle the Suboxone monopoly lawsuits.

However, Indivior was not alone in facing the wrath of legal settlements.  Reckitt Benckiser Group, another company implicated in the Suboxone controversy, also faced significant legal consequences. 

In July 2019, the US Justice Department successfully secured a substantial settlement of $1.4 billion from the company, highlighting the severity of the allegations against them.

Story of a Lost Smile

D.S., a Suboxone user, shared her heart-wrenching story with Drugwatch. She revealed how drug manufacturers exploit people when they are desperate for a lifeline in their battle against opioid dependence. These companies, she said, present Suboxone as a miracle solution, preying on the fears of those who are fighting for their very lives.

D.S. had been taking Suboxone for years without realizing how bad it would be for her teeth. She had always taken pride in her well-maintained teeth, but now, she describes her mouth as a cavern of decay. She has lost the majority of her teeth to the ravages of the medication. 

If she had known the risks, D.S. insists, she would have explored other treatment options.

Suboxone has affected D.S. beyond her physical health. She has fallen into depression and become a recluse due to her dental condition. Her job requires continuous social interaction, but the thought of greeting people terrifies her. 

This narrative serves as a poignant reminder of the concealed expenses associated with the use of Suboxone. This is a testament to the importance of informed consent and the need for greater transparency in the marketing of pharmaceutical products. 

Her experience serves as a clarion call for those battling opioid dependence, urging them to be vigilant in their search for treatment options. It also highlights the importance of full disclosure of the potential risks and side effects of the medications prescribed.

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