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Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuits Update, MDL Leadership Chosen

In March 2024, the leadership for the Suboxone tooth decay multidistrict litigation (MDL) was chosen. Of the 20 attorneys appointed, four hold the position of co-lead counsel, five will serve on the Plaintiff’s Executive Committee, and the remainder were named to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. The confirmed leadership for the Suboxone tooth decay MDL marks another step forward in the legal proceedings involving victims who suffered serious dental effects after taking Suboxone sublingual film.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued a transfer order on February 2, 2024, to consolidate 15 Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits into MDL. At least 51 lawsuits are already part of the MDL, with many more expected to be filed in the coming months. Plaintiffs allege Suboxone film caused tooth loss, decay and erosion, broken teeth, and other oral issues due to the drug’s acidity.

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These product liability lawsuits claim the current manufacturer, Indivior, and its former parent company, Reckitt Benckiser, knew or should have known of the risks to patients’ dental health, and further allege they failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks. Plaintiffs who have filed Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits are seeking compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.

More progress was made less than two weeks after the leadership for the Suboxone tooth decay MDL was announced when the judge issued a case management order (CMO) that allows the direct filing of lawsuits into the MDL. The order makes the filing process more efficient because plaintiffs no longer have to submit their case first to their local court; if they qualify, they can bypass the wait for it to be transferred to the Northern District of Ohio, where the Suboxone MDL is occurring.

Many product liability attorneys handling these cases anticipate thousands, if not more, lawsuits to be filed by patients who suffered dental issues after taking Suboxone sublingual film.

Why are People Filing Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuits?

Over several years, there was an increasing number of reports of serious dental issues by patients who took the sublingual film version of Suboxone to treat opioid use disorder. In September 2023, the first Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit was filed, and dozens more quickly followed.

Buprenorphine, one of the main ingredients, is acidic, and when dissolved in the mouth, there may be risks to patients’ dental health. Suboxone lawsuits allege the sublingual film medication causes several oral issues, including cavities, tooth decay and erosion, cracked teeth, infections, and gum disease  – injuries that have led patients to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. These serious health effects have occurred even in patients who have no history of dental issues. 

As a result of the dental and oral damage allegedly caused by Suboxone film, patients have required costly and painful dental surgeries and treatments. Sadly, many must now live with permanent damage.

As more people become aware of the probable connection between dental problems and the buprenorphine-naloxone film, the number of lawsuits is expected to significantly rise – and the Suboxone tooth decay MDL will no doubt expand. Product liability attorneys handling these cases are seeking compensation for their clients’ pain and suffering, dental bills, and mental anguish.

What is Multidistrict Litigation?

Similar to class action lawsuits, multidistrict litigation occurs when many lawsuits allege the same or similar harm or other type of loss against the same defendant(s). In the case of the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits, more than a dozen patients who suffered dental problems after taking the drug petitioned for their cases to be consolidated into MDL in Fall 2023.

There are many reasons and benefits to multidistrict litigation. First, multidistrict litigation avoids tying up courts across the country with similar lawsuits. Instead, one federal judge oversees the MDL, specifically, the pretrial proceedings, including discovery. This makes the legal process more efficient for everyone involved; resources are pooled, and evidence is shared.

MDL also saves both sides money by avoiding dozens, hundreds, or even more individual cases from being tried in local courts. It also helps avoid inconsistent rulings and often leads to settlements with all or more plaintiffs without having to go to trial.

Like the Suboxone tooth decay MDL, the judge approves leadership roles, such as lead counsel. There are usually multiple attorneys appointed as co-lead counsel given the number of plaintiffs and complexity of cases.

Oftentimes, the types of cases that are consolidated into MDL involve dangerous or defective products or medications. Why? They typically end up affecting and/or harming numerous people who end up filing lawsuits to seek justice and compensation from a company or multiple companies involved in the design, manufacturing, and/or sale of the product.

Unlike class action lawsuits, which combine all cases to become part of a single lawsuit, plaintiffs in MDL maintain their individual lawsuits (they’re only consolidated for pretrial proceedings). If a settlement isn’t reached or a plaintiff rejects a settlement offer, their individual case moves forward.

FDA Warnings Support Risks of Suboxone Causing Dental Problems

There’s significant evidence that the acidity of buprenorphine drugs that are dissolved in the mouth may cause serious dental issues, including tooth loss and decay. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 300 reports of dental issues like these from patients who took Suboxone film and similar medications.

The reports led the Administration to issue a warning about the risks to patients’ dental health. The FDA buprenorphine warning came with new requirements for buprenorphine drug manufacturers. Companies are now required to add warnings about the risks of oral and dental issues to patient medication guides and prescribing information.

Get Legal Help for the Dental Health Effects of Suboxone

There is widespread use of Suboxone to treat opioid use disorder as the country continues to face an opioid crisis. Medications like these play an integral role in addressing the crisis, helping to curb withdrawal symptoms and dependence when used in combination with other treatments. But when a pharmaceutical company’s negligence causes people to suffer, they should be held accountable.

Product liability lawsuits are complex, and like other types of personal injuries, there is a statute of limitations in every state that makes filing a claim time sensitive. Knowing how to hire a Suboxone dental decay lawyer and the benefit of doing so is important to ensure anyone harmed by the drug is properly compensated for the damages they’ve suffered.

With leadership appointed and direct filing now possible, the Suboxone tooth decay MDL is clearly progressing. Consulting with a product liability or dangerous products lawyer can help determine if you have a case, and whether or not it should be part of the MDL or filed separately.

The guidance of a skilled attorney who can walk victims through the legal process and protect their rights is invaluable, and necessary to get the best outcome. If you took Suboxone sublingual film and have experienced dental problems such as tooth decay, cracked teeth, or other issues, speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.