Meet Baby Doe
Meet Baby Doe: The Face Behind the Case
Tennessee Baby Doe is one of the tiniest victims of the opioid crisis, the face of the abuse epidemic in Tennessee, particularly in the areas at the epicenter of the nation’s crisis.
Fourteen District Attorneys General representing 47 counties have filed three lawsuits against prescription drug manufacturers and criminal pill mills for their role in creating the problem. Collectively, they are represented in the legal action by the litigation experts of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLC, who filed suit June 13th and September 29th, 2017 on behalf of the districts, listing Baby Doe as a plaintiff. The third suit was filed January 10, 2018 and includes additional defendants.
Two of the court filings explain that like thousands of children born every year, “Baby Doe” was born addicted to opioids. The infant was diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) at birth, a condition which ensured a painful start to life. NAS occurs when babies are exposed to opioids in utero and then show symptoms of withdrawal anywhere from a few minutes to a few days after birth.
Baby Doe’s first days were spent in excruciating pain as doctors weaned the fragile infant from opioid addiction. This child cried excessively, refused to feed and shook. Baby Doe’s mother fell victim to an epidemic that has ravaged Tennessee, causing immense suffering to those born addicted to opioids, and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to local governments and communities forced to deal with the aftermath.
Law enforcement has designated a portion of Baby Doe’s home region as the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which further highlights the devastating impact of the epidemic across Tennessee.
The opioid epidemic did not appear here or anywhere in America overnight. It is the result of a concerted effort among prescription opioid producers Purdue Pharma, L.P., Purdue Pharma, Inc., The Purdue Frederick Company, Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions, Inc, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and other opioid manufacturers to mislead doctors and the public about the need for, and addictive nature of, opioid drugs. They spent years engaged in a fraudulent scheme to push their wares into a market of unsuspecting doctors and patients. When it became clear that entire regions of the country were being devastated by addiction to these drugs, the manufacturers turned a blind eye to the problems and collected millions of dollars in profits.
Baby Doe is an individual child while also representative of a collective group. In one instance, Baby Doe is the child of a mother who was given prescription opioids to help with joint pain. In another, his mother participated in the illegal trade of opioids. Just a few counties away, the mother’s history includes use of opioids prescribed after an automobile accident. Collectively and individually, their worlds are, as a result of the drug manufacturers fraudulent scheme, awash in opioids, fueling a dramatic increase in those exposed and addicted to oxycodone, hydrocodone, Percocet, OxyContin, Roxicodone, Opana ER and other opioids.