How Legit Is The Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit?

IMG 6944How Legit Is The Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit?

Suboxone is a prescription-based medication used to cure opioid dependence. It consists of two compounds: buprenorphine and naloxone. These chemicals help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in those recovering from opioid dependence.

In recent years, former Suboxone users have filed lawsuits alleging that the drug caused severe tooth decay and damage. Thousands of patients have joined class action lawsuits against Suboxone manufacturers, claiming they were never warned about these dental risks.

But how legitimate are these tooth decay claims? Is there cause for concern, or is it just hype? Let’s examine the evidence behind this emerging Suboxone lawsuit.

The Allegations Behind the Suboxone Lawsuits

The lawsuits filed against Suboxone manufacturers allege that the use of the drug led to rampant dental problems, including tooth decay, enamel erosion, and bone loss in the jaw.

The core argument of the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit is that the manufacturer (Indivior Inc.) failed to warn patients and doctors about the risks of tooth decay with long-term use. Patients protest that if they had known about the dental risks, they could have taken preventative measures and avoided permanent damage.

In January 2022, the FDA issued a general safety warning to the public, citing the risks associated with the sublingual Suboxone strip. This raised concerns that the medication delivery method may contribute to decay. It was only after this warning, that the drug manufacturers decided to add a warning label to the product.

Before the FDA’s warning, in 2019–2020, Indivior settled an antitrust class action lawsuit for $60 million. Indivior was accused of engaging in actions that eliminated Suboxone’s competition and caused consumers to overpay. The FTC made settlement payments for the same from May 2021 to April 2023. The settlements were only for individuals who were administered Suboxone from March 1, 2013, to February 28, 2019.

Moreover, Indivior also pleaded guilty in 2019 to criminal charges of deceptive Suboxone marketing, paying $600 million in fines. The company admitted to making false safety claims about Suboxone to promote sales.

Its former parent company, Reckitt Benckiser, agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement over similar deceptive marketing allegations. Finally, in October 2019, the company agreed to a $700 million settlement agreement with six states for deceitful marketing. The tooth decay lawsuits represent the latest litigation Suboxone manufacturers are facing over the drug.

Given the extensive background of questionable marketing practices and safety concerns, the tooth decay litigation alleges these companies knowingly downplayed dental risks to patients. While Indivior denies these claims, the history provides context for the failure to warn arguments central to the current lawsuits.

Evidence Linking Suboxone to Tooth Decay

So what evidence exists to support these tooth decay claims? 

Several studies have found higher rates of dental problems among those using Suboxone compared to the general population. Suboxone is a Buprenorphine-based drug that damages the teeth’ enamel. Tooth enamel is a mineral-based layer that protects the teeth from harmful bacteria and compounds.

The FDA reviewed over 300 cases related to dental damage caused by buprenorphine medicines that dissolved in the mouth. Subsequently, the FDA labeled 131 cases as serious. Among all the cases, there were 26 instances where the patients had no prior history of dental issues. The worst part is that the only available treatment option was tooth extraction or removal, which was the case in 71 instances.

Researchers believe two factors contribute to the increased dental risks:

  • Dry mouth – Suboxone causes reduced saliva flow as a side effect. Saliva helps protect teeth from decay, so a dry mouth accelerates it.
  • High sugar content – Suboxone tablets contain sugar, which feeds decay-causing oral bacteria when saliva production is low.

While not all users may experience tooth decay, the research indicates Suboxone does increase risks significantly. More long-term studies are still needed on prevention and management.

How Suboxone Manufacturers Have Responded

Suboxone’s manufacturers have denied any wrongdoing in court filings so far. They argue the dental risks were sufficiently disclosed in the drug’s labeling and that doctors were aware of the effects.

The FDA, however, has requested label updates over the years to highlight the dental risks, especially for long-term use. The current Suboxone film packaging states decay has occurred in “extensive tooth decay and erosion.”

Settlements and Potential Outcomes

Given the data showing Suboxone’s link to tooth decay, many experts expect the lawsuits will ultimately end in a settlement. However, the value and details remain uncertain.

TruLaw estimates that the average settlement per case may range from $10,000 to well over $150,000. Of course, these are just projections, and the exact amount will vary as per the individual case. If the litigation succeeds, it could potentially prompt even stronger label warnings about dental risks, new dental care guidelines for Suboxone patients, and reforms around manufacturer disclosures.

Individuals involved in the lawsuit may also receive some monetary compensation for damages, depending on settlements. However, total compensation is likely to be limited given the large number of claimants. Based on current evidence, there appears to be a legitimate connection between Suboxone use and increased dental problems for many patients. The risks may be even higher with long-term use over many years.

However, the lawsuits are still pending, and Suboxone manufacturers continue to deny direct responsibility. We will have to await final rulings to determine the outcome and any changes prompted by the litigation.

Meanwhile, those taking Suboxone should monitor for dental issues and mention any oral concerns to their doctors. Proper dental hygiene and dry mouth care are critical to lowering the risks of tooth decay. Staying informed on new recommendations to protect your oral health is also advised as more data emerges on Suboxone’s dental effects.

While the legitimacy and final impact of the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits are still developing, the evidence clarifies that these dental risks are real and need proper management. Patients should take an active role in preventing issues before they arise. 

With vigilance and safe use, Suboxone can still be taken safely under a doctor’s care. But dental care is an essential part of the equation as well.

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