Drug abuse is sweeping the nation, and Tennessee and nearby states are no exception. While many dangerous drugs exist, opioids have become some of the most lethal, which is why many refer to the United States’ opioid epidemic as a “national crisis.” The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) defines prescription opioids as powerful pain-reducing medications that can help manage pain when prescribed for the right condition and when used properly, but when misused or abused, can cause serious harm such as addiction, overdose, and death. Typically, doctors prescribe opioids as painkillers. However, they are known to produce euphoria, which is why many people use them recreationally without a prescription. If you or a loved one became addicted to opiate painkillers, call the Memphis opioid overdose attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today at 800-529-4004. Our personal injury lawyers may be able to investigate your case and help you seek justice.
Commonly prescribed opioids include Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone), Hydrocodone, Methadone, and Fentanyl. The chemical makeup of these drugs causes them to be highly addictive. Many states’ Attorney General offices have sued opioid manufacturers (including Cardinal Health, Purdue Pharma, and AmerisourceBergen), alleging they use deceptive marketing practices that contribute to the drug crisis. Drug companies are being accused of encouraging doctors to prescribe drugs, like OxyContin, for unapproved uses and hiding their potential for addiction. In turn, these manufacturers have vigorously denied the accusations, and many actually blame the victims, referring to them as addicts and/or criminals.Statistics Regarding Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction is a troubling trend that continues to increase. Here are just some of the alarming numbers:
- 2 million – number of people in the United States that suffered from substance abuse disorders related to opioids in 2015 (CDC)
- 33,000 – number of people in the United States that were killed by opioids in 2015 (CDC)
- 25% – percentage of all patients whose primary care physicians prescribe opioids for non-cancer use that eventually become addicted (CDC)
- 90 – average number of Americans that die each day after overdosing on opioids (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
- $78.5 million – annual cost that opioids have on society, including healthcare, treatment, loss in productivity, and criminal justice
When people hear of a painkiller overdose, most dismiss it and simply blame the victim for getting addicted in the first place. Others refer to the users as criminals. However, those initial reactions do not even begin to tell the whole story. It is important to consider how that person became addicted in the first place, and it may be that another party bears legal responsibility for what happened, including the following:
- Doctors – Many people who suffer an opioid overdose are initially prescribed said medication by a doctor or physician. Doctors are charged with exercising reasonable care and adhering to the standards of the medical community in which they practice. Medical negligence could be considered malpractice. Causes of action may include failing to properly examine the patient, prescribing opioid drugs unnecessarily, failing to properly disclose the risks and side effects of these drugs, and ignoring obvious signs of drug addiction. An opioid overdose attorney at our Memphis-based firm can advise you on whether you may have a claim based on malpractice.
- Drug companies – Big pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers have come under fire for the way in which they market opioids to the public. Lawsuits filed by multiple state Attorney General offices allege manufacturers have inflated the benefits of the drugs while downplaying their risks, adverse side effects, and addictive nature. Companies have also been accused of violating FDA standards regarding warnings to consumers.
- Pharmacies – Pharmacies across the United States, including CVS and Walgreens, have been accused of failing to monitor patients’ opioid prescriptions and orders and failing to properly report suspicious behavior and trends to federal authorities. The Controlled Substances Act mandates such reporting to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). If a pharmaceutical company fails to comply with DEA regulations, they may face civil and criminal penalties. Some patients who become addicted to opioids will end up seeing multiple physicians to obtain additional prescriptions. Pharmacies should be trained to detect and report “doctor shopping” when reasonably possible.
Drug addiction is serious, often derailing the lives of users and those around them. If you or a loved one was improperly prescribed opioids or suffered an overdose, do not delay in calling an attorney. Financial compensation may be available, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral and burial costs (if the victim passed away), and more. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, the largest plaintiff’s personal injury law firm based in Tennessee, has a dedicated team of more than 30 lawyers and 120 support staff members ready to speak with you today. Prescription drug and product liability cases tend to be complex, but our resources give our Memphis opioid overdose lawyers the ability to consult with experts as needed and investigate potential class action and mass tort cases. For a free consultation with a product liability lawyer, call 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. We serve injured victims throughout the South, including Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Kentucky.