Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Nevada Senator Proposes Bill That Would Make Doctors and Drug Makers Liable for Addictive Drugs

The Legislative Building at Carson City, Nevada was packed with people on March 6 to hear the testimony on a bill that would allow patients addicted to prescription drugs to sue the physician who prescribed the medication and the drug’s maker.

SB75, sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), seeks to create liability for anyone licensed to prescribe drugs, such as physicians and dentists, as well as the drug’s manufacturer if a patient becomes addicted or experiences injury resulting from an addiction to the drug. State-run medical marijuana dispensaries could likewise be held liable if a user gets addicted to pot. If a patient wins the lawsuit, the defendant would have to shoulder the patient’s rehabilitation treatment, as well as pay possible punitive damages and attorney’s fees, The Associated Press reports.

“They know the person can get addicted to the drug so they should pay for the process of them getting off it,” said Sen. Segerblom, who was present at the legislative hearing.

However, the senator’s proposal was strongly opposed, particularly by health care professionals. Las Vegas physician David Johnson said the legislation “ties the hands of physicians and takes away the rights of patients to choose which risk to assume while seeking treatment for their diseases.”

James Marx, a pain management specialist in Las Vegas, shared an anecdote about one of his patients who suffers from severe disfigurement and has been on painkillers for 15 years. “Without Methadone, her life would be a living hell,” Marx argued. “I can’t imagine anyone with expertise in chronic pain management was consulted in the drafting of this bill.”

Although Segerblom expressed skepticism over claims that prescription drugs are the only solution in managing chronic pains, he said the state has to “create a better way to control and regulate” medicines if they are truly the only way to treat certain diseases.

The committee has not yet reached any decision on the measure. It wasn’t clear when the next discussion for the bill will be held.

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