An opioid overdose lawsuit may be an option for people in Alabama who have lost a loved one due to opioid addiction. Opioids are a group of drugs that are intended to manage severe physical pain, but they have an addictive quality that has been allegedly downplayed by the companies that manufacture them. Since the expansion of opioids on the market, thousands of people have died from opioid addiction and entire communities have been devastated. Grieving families may be eligible to pursue compensation for damages with the help of a bad drug attorney.
If your loved one died as a result of opioid addiction, contact Attorney Group to learn about your options. We offer free, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a claim we can connect you with an affiliated opioid overdose lawyer who can assist you throughout the legal process.
What are Opioids?
Opioids derive from opium, a drug that dates back thousands of years, and was used to treat severe pain and as a sedative. In 1527, the first opioid, Laudanum, was discovered by chemists and this was followed by morphine in the 1800s and then by heroin in 1898. Heroine was introduced to replace morphine, but it was removed from the medical field as a medication after The Heroin Act was passed in 1924. By then, doctors realized the danger of addiction was real and the use of them all but disappeared, except as treatment for patients with a terminal condition or cancer.
In the past forty years, the number of available opioids has expanded, as doctors’ focus turned to the importance of managing patients’ pain, and includes the following: OxyContin®, Demerol®, Hydrocodone, Vicodin®, Percocet® and Methadone. These are used for a wide assortment of health conditions such as: fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, pinched nerves, back pain, nerve damage, arthritis and degenerative disc disease.
Opioids and Addiction
Like other prescription drugs, opioids have several side effects, but the biggest risk associated with them is addiction, and Alabama has seen its share of countless families and communities affected by this problem. The current epidemic can be traced back to the 1970s, when new research emerged from prominent physicians, claiming that opioids were useful in the treatment of pain and that the new set of opioids being released on the market, such as OxyContin®, were safer; that the risk of addiction was extremely low. Manufacturers of these drugs also promoted their products as safe, focusing their marketing campaigns on the importance of pain management for patients, and in response, doctors began prescribing them widely.
However, it wasn’t long before patients soon became addicted to the prescription opioids and then took darker paths, experimenting with other opioids like heroin and now fentanyl, thus generating a national epidemic that has left thousands of parents grieving the loss of their loved ones from overdose. According to The Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse Final Report, released in 2018, the statistics indicate that the state’s problems with opioid addiction are increasing:
- 1,300 newborns, between 2014 and 2017 have tested positive for opioids.
- Overdose accounts for nearly 1,000 deaths in the state every year.
- Deaths from opioid overdose have risen 91 percent in the past 15 years.
Oklahoma has been one of the hardest hit states, ranking No. 1 for opioid abuse in 2014, and continuing to be named one of the top states since.
Opioid Addiction Lawsuits and Legal Actions
As the opioid epidemic has grown, drug manufacturers and distributors have been slapped with multimillion-dollar government fines and sued by families who lost loved ones to addiction. Purdue Pharma agreed to a plea deal in which three of its executives pled guilty to drug misbranding for its product, OxyContin®, and paid $600 million for misleading the public and medical professionals. More recently, a distribution company named Cardinal Health agreed to pay $20 million after it was sued by the state of West Virginia for shipping millions of opioid pills to communities, flooding them with the drugs and fueling the state’s epidemic.
In 2017, Cardinal Health was named again in a lawsuit filed by New York City, along with manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma, for marketing tactics that were deceiving and for sending millions of opioids to the city’s medical providers. The Cherokee Nation also filed a lawsuit in 2017, claiming that their members were targeted by distributors of opioid medications, which then resulted in hundreds of deaths. Oklahoma filed its own lawsuit in June 2017, naming four pharmaceutical companies – Allergan, Cephalon, Janssen and Purdue Pharma – as the parties responsible for the state’s opioid crisis. The lawsuit alleges that these companies provided misleading information about the effectiveness and addictiveness of their drugs, which has created a situation in which a generation of state residents have died, become incarcerated or continue to struggle with addiction.
Injured Patients May Be Entitled to Compensation
Product makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their products, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a product maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured by the fault of others may be eligible to recover money for:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
The families of those killed may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.