A recent United Nations study found that Americans use more opioid painkillers than any other country in the world. The study found that Americans use 99% of the world’s supply of hydrocodone, and two-thirds more prescription painkillers overall than the next highest country.
This high rate of prescription painkiller use has also led to an alarming number of opioid overdoses. According to the CDC, opioids killed about 33,000 Americans in 2015, more than any other year on record. Between 2000 and 2015, opioid overdoses killed about half a million Americans.
The widespread use of opioid painkillers has occurred for two main reasons: changes in the way doctors prescribe opioid medications to patients and the aggressive marketing of these drugs by opioid manufacturers. According to CDC data, the number of opioid prescriptions issued in the U.S. increased by four times between 1999 and 2010. Some of this increase was due to changes in the way physicians managed their patients’ pain. However, the marketing of opioid medications also played an important role.
Patients and municipalities across the country have filed lawsuits against against opioid manufacturers whose aggressive marketing of prescription painkillers helped fuel the opioid crisis. According to these lawsuits, the opioid industry promoted drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone to doctors while downplaying their addictive properties. As a result, the volume of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. soared, causing millions of patients to develop problems with opioid abuse, dependency, and addiction.
Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the FDA, says that the widespread use of opioid medications is “one of the great mistakes of modern medicine”. Kessler says that the opioid industry marketed prescription painkillers to doctors as non-addictive, causing a sharp increase in the number of painkiller prescriptions issued in the U.S.
In response to the opioid epidemic, federal agencies have taken steps to curb the volume of opioid prescriptions issued in the U.S. In 2016, the DEA announced that it would lower its quota for opioid production during 2017. The agency said that by reducing the amount of opioids available in the U.S., it hoped to reduce the rate of addiction, abuse, dependency, and overdoses caused by these drugs.
In 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic to be a “health emergency”. The President ordered several federal agencies to take steps to help curb the problems posed by opioid painkillers in the U.S.
If you have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the drug, the doctor or hospital who prescribed the medication, or the pharmacy that issued the prescription. The first step in finding out if you qualify to file a case is to speak with an experienced pharmaceutical litigation attorney who can guide you through the steps in taking legal action.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have handled numerous cases involving dangerous drugs, including opioid painkiller overdoses. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has resolved more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch than all other law firms in the U.S. combined. Our attorneys have also handled cases involving side effects from other dangerous opioid medications.
For more information about filing an opioid overdose lawsuit and to find out whether you 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 filling out the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page.