Oxycodone is the deadliest prescription drug in the U.S., according to statistics released by the Food and Drug Administration. The agency received more than 5,500 reports of deaths caused by oxycodone between 1998 and 2005, more than any opioid painkiller or other prescription drug.
Oxycodone is prescribed to treat patients with moderate to severe pain. The drug can be prescribed in generic form or under several brand names, including OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicet, Roxicodone, and Tylox.
The high number of deaths caused by oxycodone overdose is due in part to the alarming frequency at which the drug is being prescribed. According to statistics from the Drug Enforcement Agency, prescriptions for opioid painkillers such as oxycodone have risen by 600% since 1997.
This increase was due in part to the way that one form of oxycodone, known as OxyContin, was marketed by its manufacturer. In a lawsuit filed by the federal government, Perdue Pharmaceuticals admitted that it had misled doctors about the risks of addiction associated with OxyContin.
According to a study published by the British Medical Journal, Perdue employees misled doctors into believing “that oxycodone is less potent than morphine, when the converse is true.” Other marketing practices helped to further fuel the sharp increase in the number of oxycodone prescriptions over the last 15 years:
The manufacturer targeted physicians who prescribed OxyContin frequently, paid its sales representatives large bonuses as an incentive to increase OxyContin sales, and issued coupons entitling new patients to free samples at participating pharmacies.
With thousands more patients taking OxyContin or other forms of oxycodone, the number of patients who were at risk of suffering an overdose increased dramatically. Patients who are prescribed too much oxycodone may lapse into respiratory depression, which could lead to respiratory arrest and death.
If you or a loved one were prescribed opioids such as oxycodone and suffered an overdose or other side effects, you may be eligible for a lawsuit. To receive a free legal consultation from a lawyer, contact the law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by filling out the free consultation form located on this page.