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FDA issues warning about combined drug overdose risk for opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine anxiety medications

The Food and Drug Administration recently warned that the use of opioid painkillers in combination with a class of anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines may put patients at risk of a potentially fatal combined drug overdose. As a result of these health risks, the FDA ordered the manufacturers of hundreds of opioids, benzodiazepines, and other drugs to issue a new warning about the overdose risks of these medications.

The new warning about the combined overdose risk of opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines involves the ability of these medications to slow down the central nervous system. Although both opioids and benzodiazepines can have potentially dangerous CNS-depressant effects, when taken together, the ability of these drugs to slow the central nervous system is increased drastically, putting patients at risk of severe and potentially fatal complications.

The FDA issued the new warnings about the combined risks of opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines after research showed that the two classes of medications were more frequently being prescribed together by physicians. The agency found that between 2002 and 2014, the number of patients in the U.S. who were prescribed both opioids and benzodiazepines increased by 41%, amounting to about 2.5 million new patients taking these drugs in combination. Between 2004 and 2011, the FDA says that the number of overdose deaths involving the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines nearly tripled.

The FDA’s warning about the combined overdose risk of prescription painkillers and benzodiazepines came in response to a citizen petition received by the agency in February 2016. The letter, sent by a number of state and public health officials, called for the FDA to take steps to reduce the risk of combined drug overdoses involving benzodiazepines and opioids in the U.S. The FDA had already begun investigating the combined dangers of these medications before receiving the letter, but strengthened its efforts based on the support expressed by these health officials.

The FDA’s safety warning about the combined overdose risks associated with opioid painkillers includes more than 400 prescription medications. In addition to benzodiazepines (such as Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, or Xanax), the FDA warned that using opioids in combination with certain tranquilizers or sleeping medications (such as Ambien, Lunesta, Nembutal, Seconal, or Sonata), muscle relaxers (such as Soma), or antipsychotic medications (such as Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel, or Zyprexa) may also place patients at risk of a potentially fatal combined drug overdose.

Opioid Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you or a loved one has been injured by a combined drug overdose caused by interactions between two or more prescription medications, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit in order to seek compensation for your injuries. The first step in taking legal actions is to speak with a law firm whose attorneys have the experience at handling cases involving dangerous prescription drugs to advise you regarding your legal rights.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are committed to helping patients whose lives have een affected by complications from prescription medications, including cases involving doctors who irresponsibly prescribe opioid painkillers and other medications to their patients. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has represented numerous patients who have suffered complications from excessive painkiller prescriptions. The lawyers at our firm have handled more cases involving the powerful fentanyl pain patch than all other law firms in the country combined.

In recent years, the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients totaling more than $200 million. Our law firm has pursued pharmaceutical liability claims involving injuries linked to a variety of prescription medications, including the fentanyl pain patch, Yasmin, Actos, Avandia, Pradaxa, Xarelto, Zofran, and other drugs.

For more information about painkiller overdose lawsuits and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by completing our free case evaluation form located at the top of this page to get started.

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