BELLEVILLE — An Illinois family of a baby born addicted to opioids is suing 20 pharmaceutical companies alleging they're responsible for the mother's addition to opioids and heroin.
The lawsuit states that a baby, identified by his initials T.W.B., was born in March 2017 and diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which can cause breathing and feeding problems. The lawsuit says baby T.W.B. spent his first days in "excruciating pain" as he weaned from an opioid addiction inherited from his mother, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
The baby's grandparents, Deric and Ceonda Rees, of Alton, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois Wednesday. Ceonda Rees declined the newspaper's request for comment.
"Baby T.W.B. will require years of treatment and counseling to deal with the effects of prenatal exposure," the lawsuit states. "Baby T.W.B. and his mother are victims of the opioid crisis that has ravaged Illinois, causing immense suffering to those born addicted to opioids and great expense to those forced to deal with the aftermath."
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Babies can also suffer birth defects if a mother takes opioids while pregnant, according to Stanford Children's Health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that the number of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome has increased fivefold since 2000.
According to the lawsuit, the baby's mother became addicted to opioids after she was prescribed them for a broken ankle and hand as a teenager. Her prescription opiates addiction later became a gateway to a heroin addiction. The lawsuit alleges that the mother has consumed drugs produced and distributed by the 20 companies, such as Dilaudid, Percocet, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone.
The lawsuit also alleges that the pharmaceutical companies are responsible for "false, negligent and unfair marketing/unlawful diversion of prescription opioids."
The family has requested equitable relief and medical monitoring to help identify developmental issues and to pay for treatment.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Purdue Pharma, Allergan and Teva Pharmaceuticals released statements in response to the lawsuit. Three companies didn't respond for comment and two declined.