Opioid Justice: Claims process underway for parents and guardians of babies born opioid-dependent to obtain relief

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Claims process is underway and an estimated $6 billion in funds will be made available by Purdue as part of bankruptcy settlement.

Representatives fighting for children born exposed to opioids while fetuses in their mother’s womb are encouraging their parents, grandparents, and guardians, to file a proof of claim in order to qualify to obtain compensation from Purdue—reportedly up to $6 billion in funds will be made available by Purdue as part of its bankruptcy settlement.

“The COVID-19 national emergency has dominated the news media and other public communications outlets that otherwise could have notified these same parents and guardians of the need to take immediate action in the best interests of their children,” says Brylski, principal of New Orleans-based Brylski Company. Brylski is a spokesperson for Opioid Justice, a resource for attorneys fighting to end our nation’s opioid epidemic by identifying real solutions to the crisis. "We are waving a red flag that families need to contact an attorney today."

The federal judge overseeing the Purdue bankruptcy proceedings is determined to swiftly reach an agreement over the distribution of the Purdue funds.

“To direct needed relief and assistance to children suffering from the complications of NAS it is vital that parents and guardians act now by filing a proof of claim," said Donald Creadore, an attorney and member of the Ad Hoc Committee for NAS Children in the Purdue Bankruptcy action. "Right now, no determination has been made about how much of the reported $6 billion settlement will be directed towards relief and assistance to children suffering from the complications of NAS, so these families can make an impact and obtain relief by acting today to have their needs fully represented.”

Brylski says that exposure to opioids in the womb has resulted in birth defects, such as club foot, spina bifida, heart defects, cleft palate, hydrocephalus, esophageal atresia, gastroschisis, anorectal atresia, anddiaphragmatic hernia. The most common adverse outcomes upon birth include body shakes, excessive crying or yawning , feeding problems, diarrhea, sleeping problems, fever, or runny noses. As these children grow, many experience behavioral problems, cognitive delays, delayed speech and walking, mental or motor deficits, or attention-deficit disorder (ADD).

“With America more than two decades into a crisis triggered by over-prescription and abuse of prescription painkillers, the public is stunningly unaware of the dangers caused by pregnant women exposing – often unknowingly – babies in the womb to these opioids,” said Brylski.

There are already class actions filed in 43 states on behalf of such infants and children, said Ms. Brylski, but there is still time for more families to join these legal efforts.

“But the clock is ticking,” said Brylski.

Jennifer Scully is a 42-year-old career nurse who lives in upstate New York. Scully says she’s gotten used to the phone calls from the school attended by her 5-year-old daughter from teachers and staff who don’t understand the seizures occasionally experienced by her child, in which she would stare blankly into space for a minute or two, unresponsive to adults.

To Scully, the seizures are one more problem – on top of her child’s small size, limited vocabulary, and delayed potty training – that she connects with opioid exposure.

The career health-care professional trusted her doctors in 2014 when she unexpectedly became pregnant while under treatment for both the aftermath of a broken back and breast cancer, which is why she was on a drug regimen that included OxyContin.

“They said, ‘We’re not taking you off and besides, it won’t affect the baby,” Scully recalls. Instead, her newborn daughter spent five days in the hospital coping with the symptoms of NAS, including tremors and high-pitched crying. When they finally left the hospital, doctors insisted the worst that Scully would have to deal with would be an occasionally cranky baby – a gross underestimation of the developmental problems her daughter has faced.

“The number of American children – and families – affected had been grossly undercounted. Based on information that about one-in-three pregnant women in America — or roughly 1.3 million out of the 3.8 million women who gave birth — were given a prescription for opioid painkillers, our team has estimated that a baby with serious problems related to opioid exposure is born somewhere in the United States every 15 minutes,” said Ms. Brylski.

Nurse Scully is suing, like other impacted families, for long-term health care and a medical monitoring fund for children exposed to opioids in the womb. She says the big pharmaceutical firms “need to be held responsible for what they’ve done. I expected a healthy child. None of this is my fault.”

Children born exposed or dependent on prescription opioids due to the mother’s use of Oxycotin, Butran, Dilaudid, or other forms of oxycodone, tramadol or related prescription medicines can file a claim by calling (800) 529-8170 or going to http://www.opioidjusticeteam.com.

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Cheron Brylski
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