Narcotic painkillers are opioid drugs that are prescribed to treat patients with pain. Some of the most commonly prescribed opioid painkillers include the drugs hydrocodone (Vicodin), methadone, fentanyl (Duragesic), oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and morphine (MS Contin).
Fentanyl is an extremely potent drug—about 100 times more powerful than morphine—that is prescribed to treat severe pain in opioid tolerant patients with long term, chronic pain, such as cancer patients. Fentanyl can be prescribed in the form of a patch that is sold generically or under the brand name Duragesic, or in the form of a lollipop called Actiq. It is also available in pill form called Fentora.
Oxycodone is one of the most frequently prescribed opioids. The drug is prescribed generically as oxycodone but also under the brand names Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, Tylox, OxyContin, and Roxicet. Oxycodone is the leading cause of prescription drug deaths in the U.S., in part due to the high rate of addiction associated with the drug.
Hydrocodone is often prescribed generically, as well as under the brand names Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, and Zydone. The drug can be prescribed as a tablet, a capsule, a syrup, or in other forms. Hydrocodone is only sold in formulas that combine the drug with other medications, such as acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is usually prescribed to patients with more short term or moderate pain.
Morphine is prescribed to treat patients with severe pain. Although the drug is sometimes administered intravenously during or after surgery, morphine is commonly prescribed in long acting 12-24 hour tablets or capsules under brand names such as MS Contin.
Hydromorphone is prescribed to patients with more serious pain. The drug is available generically in the form of a tablet, liquid, or suppository, and under the brand name Dilaudid as a tablet or liquid.
Methadone is a potent opioid that has been associated with many deaths. The FDA requires that a warning accompany Methadone advising that deaths, cardiac and respiratory, have been reported during initiation and conversion of pain patients to methadone.
Although these and other opiate painkillers have been approved by the FDA, when improperly prescribed by a physician, they can lead to serious side effects, including overdose, addiction, or death.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are among the nationwide leaders in handling lawsuits involving opioid painkiller overdose or death. If you or a loved one have been injured by one of these drugs, you can receive a free consultation by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form on this page.