Can I File an Opioid Lawsuit for Painkiller Addiction?
New Jersey Pharmaceutical Litigation Lawyer Explains Drug Company Liability
Pharmaceutical companies have contributed to one of the worst health crises in American history. Due to the drug companies’ aggressive and deceptive marketing tactics, more than two million Americans are suffering from opioid addiction. Drug manufacturers have made billions of dollars while turning millions of Americans into addicts.
In response to this epidemic, states, municipalities and individuals have filed lawsuits against companies like Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. Many of these lawsuits have targeted the marketing strategies of these companies. For example, OxyContin’s marketing strategy involved convincing doctors to prescribe this medication for a wide range of conditions that were not severe enough to warrant opioid use. Doctors began overprescribing opioids to patients, believing there was little risk of addiction. The result has been the prescription opioid epidemic.
If you or a loved one developed an addiction to painkillers as a result of a past prescription, then you may be able to hold the drug manufacturer accountable for your damages through an opioid lawsuit. Negligent marketing practices may have led to doctors overprescribing these drugs, drastically increasing the risk of addiction. Individuals harmed by these marketing strategies deserve justice. Keefe Law Firm is dedicated to holding all opioid manufacturers accountable for their actions. Therefore, if you believe you have a case, then contact our attorneys today.
What are the Most Common Prescription Opioids?
Statistics gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show prescriptions for opioids have increased from 76 million in 1991 to 207 million in 2013. Today, multiple companies produce dozens of drugs that have contributed to prescription opioid abuse, including:
- Oxycodone: Drugs like OxyContin, Roxicodone and Percocet contain oxycodone. Additional brands include Endocet, OxyIR, Percolone, Dazidox, Endocodone, Oxaydo, Percodan, and Xtampza ER. These powerful painkillers have become extremely popular over the last two decades. Purdue Pharma alone has made over $31 billion in revenue from OxyContin sales.
- Fentanyl: Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller. In fact, it is estimated fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Insys Therapeutics produces Subsys, a form of fentanyl that is sprayed underneath the tongue. Other brand names include Abstral, Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora and Onsolis.
- Hydrocodone: Vicodin, Lortab, Norco and Lorcet contain hydrocodone. Additional brands include, Anexsia, Ceta Plus, Hycet, Maxidone, Stagesic and Zydone. These drugs also contain acetaminophen, which carries a risk of drug-induced hepatotoxicity (liver damage).
- Hydromorphone: Drugs such as Dilaudid and Exalgo contain hydromorphone, which is approximately five times as powerful as oxycodone. It is sometimes prescribed in extended-release form for constant treatment of pain.
- Oxymorphone: This narcotic is often used in conjunction with anesthesia and to treat anxiety. Endo Pharmaceuticals produces Opana and Opana ER, which contain oxymorphone.
Who is Liable for Overprescribing Opioids?
Several parties may be liable for overprescribing opioids. Doctors and pharmacies may share some of the responsibility. However, drug companies may be primarily liable for pushing the medical community to overprescribe opioid medications.
Drugs like OxyContin were designed to be used as a treatment for severe, acute pain or end-of-life care. However, in the 1990s, Purdue Pharma began marketing OxyContin as a successful treatment for chronic non-cancer pain. Other companies soon followed suit. Soon, patients were being prescribed powerful painkillers for conditions like arthritis or post-operative discomfort. OxyContin and similar drugs eventually made billions of dollars for their manufacturers. However, as sales increased, so did the number of fatal overdoses and admissions to addiction treatment centers.
In their marketing, opioid manufacturers misleadingly downplayed the fact that patients may become addicted when they take these drugs long-term. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows patients may become addicted after taking OxyContin for just ten days. This directly contradicts Purdue Pharma’s claim that less than 1 percent of those treated with OxyContin would become addicted.
In the end, treating chronic non-cancer pain with opioids like OxyContin proved to be disastrous. Recently, pharmaceutical companies’ aggressive marketing tactics, such as seeking out doctors with loose prescribing habits, have become the target of public scrutiny. In many ways, the marketing strategies of opioid manufacturers and tobacco companies share similarities. Much like the tobacco industry, drug companies downplayed the risks of their products to boost sales. Lawsuits against opioid manufacturers are following similar parallels to those filed against the tobacco companies.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma and several executives pleaded guilty to misleading the medical community and patients about OxyContin’s abuse potential. The company also paid $130 million to settle OxyContin lawsuits filed by patients and other plaintiffs.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Prescription Opioid Addiction?
Addiction is an incurable, progressive and potentially fatal brain disease if left untreated. Drug companies knew many people would become addicted to powerful narcotic painkillers, but they hid the risks to protect their profits. As a result, opioid addicts often face a lifelong struggle as they try to kick their habit, a struggle that can have not only psychological repercussions, but also economic implications as well. Addiction costs include not only the expense of rehabilitation and therapies, but also potentially lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Therefore, individuals affected by opioid addiction should consider filing lawsuits against the drug companies involved to recover these losses.
Furthermore, many families affected by this health crisis will watch their loved ones die from prescription opioid abuse. CDC statistics show that in 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses. New Jersey citizens have also lost loved ones to the prescription opioid epidemic. In 2015, more than 1,600 people in New Jersey died from fatal overdoses, per the CDC. Governor Chris Christie has called opioid drugs a “public health crisis”.
The marketing strategies of opioid manufacturers have caused considerable damage to public health here in New Jersey and across the country. Individuals and family members affected by the overprescribing of narcotics deserve justice. It may be possible for these individuals to secure damages from these negligent companies by filing product liability and wrongful death claims against them.
Questions about Filing an Opioid Lawsuit? Contact Our New Jersey Attorneys Today
Keefe Law Firm is currently investigating and accepting prescription opioid claims in New Jersey and nationwide. We have a commitment to helping our clients solve difficult problems. Our firm has extensive experience holding medical device manufacturers and drug companies accountable for harming patients. We have helped clients injured by defective drugs and medical devices secure settlements worth millions of dollars.
If the circumstances are correct, then it may be possible for you to file a claim against the drug companies that caused your addiction or a loved one’s dependency. Call 1-888-8-OPIOID or contact us online to speak with a pharmaceutical litigation lawyer at Keefe Law Firm today. We have offices conveniently located in Red Bank, Newark, New Brunswick and Point Pleasant.