Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. In 2016, more than 63,600 lives were lost to overdoses of the drug. It was the deadliest year of the epidemic to date. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, 12.5 million people misuse prescription opioids. Concerns manufacturers understated the potency of the drug have led to lawsuits related to OxyContin and other opiates.
Big pharma is often accused of making misleading claims about its drugs and opiates are no exception. In recent years, drug companies inflated how effective delayed-release medications like OxyContin were while downplaying their addictive qualities.
The opiate epidemic has led to untold misery, deaths and serious injuries in Virginia and elsewhere. As well as individual patients, local government across the country are filing lawsuits against the drug manufacturers because vital resources were used to deal with the problem.
OxyContin lawsuits and those against the makers of other opiates claim the pharmaceutical industry failed to adequately investigate suspect orders of prescription opiates and ignored the serious risks in favor of profit. Local governments were left picking up the pieces.
What Are Opioid Drugs?
Opioids are a class of powerful painkillers. They include the illegal drug heroin, as well as legally prescribed drugs. They include:
How Do Opiates Work?
Drugs like OxyContin interact with the opioid receptors in the body’s nerve cells and brain to control pain. Opiates are commonly prescribed after surgery or injury. They are also given to patients with serious health conditions like cancer.
A short course of opioids is usually safe when prescribed by a doctor. However, these drugs are commonly misused and patients can become addicted to the feeling of euphoria they receive. In recent years, some doctors have overprescribed opiates. Using drugs like OxyContin regularly can lead to dependence. Some users suffer withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop taking these drugs.
Despite an accepted awareness about the powerful nature of opiates, these drugs have become more widely used in recent years, fueling the epidemic.
America has seen a marked increase in the common acceptance and use of powerful painkillers including OxyContin for the treatment of other forms of chronic, non-cancer-related pain, such as back pain.
The wider use of opiates occurred in a vacuum of evidence about whether they are effective in the long term.
OxyContin and Other Opiates – the Side Effects
Opioids have numerous serious side effects that can ruin the lives of users. They include:
· Sickness and vomiting
· Sensitivity to pain
· Low testosterone
· Opioid abuse and addiction
Opioid Manufactures Face Government Action
In March 2018, President Donald Trump urged federal prosecutors to pursue “major litigation” against the drug companies he accused of playing a role in creating a national epidemic of opioid abuse.
The president pledged a national opioids strategy, expanding on the comments of Attorney General Jeff Sessions who pledged to hold accountable drug companies that the nation billions in taxpayer dollars.
Drug manufacturers facing scrutiny include Janssen, Purdue, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Teva and Insys. These companies faced scrutiny and often lawsuits from state and local governments seeking compensation.
The plaintiffs claim the drug companies used dubious and disingenuous marketing strategies.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma, its president, top attorney and former chief medical officer were ordered to pay $634.5 million in fines for making claims the drug was less addictive and abused less than other pain medications,
Other measures taken by the Trump administration over opioids include a crackdown on the importation of fentanyl and an increased focus on opioid distribution and dealer networks across the United States and overseas.
Cities File Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers
In January 2018, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid prescription drugs.
In the same month, Franklin County in Ohio – one of the states most seriously hit by the opioid epidemic – hired lawyers to file a suit against the drug companies.
In 2016, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, declared the Virginia opioid addiction crisis a Public Health Emergency. He said:
“Too many families across Virginia and the nation are dealing with heartbreak and loss as a result of prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. We cannot stand by while these drugs harm our communities and our economy. That is why I support Dr. Levine’s decision to declare a public health emergency, to heighten awareness of this issue, provide a framework for further actions to fight it and to save Virginians’ lives.”
Contact an Experienced Trial Lawyer About OxyContin Lawsuits in Virginia and Elsewhere
At the Smith Law Center, our attorneys have a long track record of taking on and winning big cases related to a wide range of dangerous drugs. Call us at 757.244.7000.
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