Each day, more than 130 Americans lose their lives to opioid overdoses and many more struggle with opioid addiction. Over the past 20 years, the deregulation of laws controlling the prescribing of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain by the state medical boards has led to substantial increases in opioid use.
Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically, they are typically used for pain relief, including anesthesia, but can also create an addictive euphoric high in users when abused.
The opioid epidemic has caused tremendous pain, suffering, and boundless damage to millions of Americans. Unfortunately, people who were simply looking for a way to manage their pain instead ended up with a horrific addiction to the pills they were prescribed by a licensed professional. And more times than not, that intense addiction leads to a tragic death due to an overdose. In 2020 alone, more than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose, a record number that reflects a rise of almost 30% from 2019. Also, statistics show that opioid painkillers are now responsible for more deaths than suicide and motor vehicle crashes or deaths from cocaine and heroin combined.
As this epidemic continues to grow, our society and our legal system have started to recognize that, in most cases, an addict’s dependence on opioids cannot be accredited to a weak will or moral defeat. Evidence now proposes that the healthcare industry continues to knowingly fail to protect the patients that it claims to serve. This evidence seems to have started directly with the opioid producers themselves, expanding to the medical professionals that prescribe these pills by the billions.
For many years, drugs like hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, and Oxycotin were advertised as a miracle solution to the longtime problem of pain relief for anyone dealing with acute or chronic pain. However, with that relief came the severe risk of addiction, and this side was never appropriately acknowledged by the producers, nor were the millions of patients who were prescribed these drugs appropriately informed.
This horrific epidemic did not crawl out of the woodwork. It can all be traced back to distrustful, profit-seeking decisions continuously made by drug producers who chose not to inform the public of the risks accompanying opioid use.
In fact, in July of 2021, four major companies that distributed opioid painkillers, even as addiction and overdose deaths skyrocketed, were faced with a $26 billion national settlement. These companies included Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. Each company has denied any wrongdoing in its production and marketing of opioids but have stated that this settlement will “deliver meaningful relief to communities across the country.” Only a year before this opioid settlement, Purdue Pharma, another pharmaceutical producer, faced an $8.3 billion settlement after admitting that it marketed and sold its dangerous opioid products to healthcare providers, knowing that these providers were distributing them to abusers.
However, opioid producers are not the only ones at fault. Kickbacks, specifically pharmaceutical kickbacks, are a type of fraud in which a drug producer bribes a medical professional to encourage them to prescribe medications for unapproved or inappropriate uses. These kickbacks can come in the form of incentives like lavish vacations, monetary rewards, extravagant gifts, or phony research grants. Pharmaceutical kickbacks make the producer and provider more profitable while increasing the number of opioids people often abuse.
As the numbers reveal an almost incomprehensible national crisis, communities, states, and other local entities have finally had enough. More and more lawsuits against manufacturers, and even medical professionals, have begun in hopes of correcting the wrong that has caused more accidental deaths in the country than that of car accidents.
Lawsuits against opioid producers, for example, declare that defendants intentionally engaged in deceitful and misleading marketing of opioids by “downplaying the risk of addiction” and “denying the risks of high dosages.” Plaintiff’s causes of actions range from the cost of consequences of the epidemic to violations of state consumer protection. Unfortunately, many big pharmaceutical companies have not been true to their word of protecting the clients they serve, and it has resulted in too many lost lives.
As the death tolls continue to rise, state authorities across the country have started investigations to bring legal measures against these drug producers. Many of these investigations have been successful in court, opening the door for claims to people who have suffered from the horrific consequences opioids bring.
Hundreds of claims, if not thousands, have been filed, and the legal field has never been more responsive. As this tragic epidemic becomes more apparent, our nation becomes more understanding of the trauma and damage that has been imposed on masses of people across the country. Friends, family, neighbors, and everyone in between have been affected, and it’s time to fight back for the wrong that has been done.
The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you.
Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love that has suffered from the opioid epidemic. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided.
You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.