A United Nations study on the frequency of opioid painkiller use worldwide shows that Americans are prescribed far more opioid medications than any other country in the world. The U.S. has continued to outpace the other top 25 countries in opioid use despite recent efforts to reduce the availability of opioid medications in this country.
According to the U.N. study, the United States prescribes about 50,000 daily doses of opioid medications per one million inhabitants. This is about 67% more than the next highest country, Canada, which uses about 30,000 daily doses per million residents. The U.S. prescribes about six times more opioid drugs to its citizens than France or Portugal, despite the fact that citizens there have easier access to health care.
The biggest discrepancy between the U.S. and other countries in the volume of opioids prescriptions came in regard to hydrocodone. According to the U.N. study, the U.S. uses 99% of the world’s supply of the opioid drug, which is also marketed as Vicodin.
The U.N. study found that unlike the rest of the world, the U.S. put few constraints on the ability of drug companies to market opioid painkillers to doctors or patients. This has led many opioid manufacturers to aggressively market painkillers to doctors. Many have blamed these aggressive marketing campaigns for the U.S. opioid epidemic. The DEA announced that it would lower its 2017 quota for opioid painkillers production in order to lower the supply of these drugs in the U.S.
The huge profits generated by sales of opioid medications in the U.S. have given the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured these drugs enormous clout in lobbying officials who may wish to impose stricter regulations on their products. A recent Washington Post study found that when federal drug enforcement agents began to target opioid distributors for shipping opioids in high volume to painkiller “pill mills,” industry lobbyists successfully pressured Justice Department officials to close the investigation.
Opioid prescribing practices by doctors in the U.S. have also played a role in the disparity between the volume of painkiller prescriptions in this country and the rest of the world. A recent study found that patients who are treated by “high volume” opioid prescribers are three times more likely to become long-term users of these medications than those treated by doctors who prescribe painkillers in lower amounts.
If you or a loved one suffered an overdose caused by opioid painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital that prescribed your medication. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the process of filing a case.
The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of patients who were injured by an opioid painkiller overdose. Our law firm has represented hundreds of patients who suffered overdoses caused by opioid painkiller prescriptions. Our firm has the training and experience to prosecute medical malpractice cases involving a wide array of opioid medications, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, and other drugs.
For more information about filing an opioid lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.