An opioid overdose lawsuit may be an option for the residents of Arizona who have lost a loved one due to opioid addiction. In the past 40 years, as opioids have become more available, the number of people becoming addicted to them and dying from overdose has also increased. Lawsuits and government investigations claim that the current opioid epidemic started when pharmaceutical companies launched an aggressive campaign to convince the medical field that their new opioids were safer to use on patients with severe chronic pain. Today, thousands of people have died from an overdose on opioids, and the data being collected indicates that the problem is continuing to grow worse. Grieving families, however, may be eligible to pursue compensation for damages with the help of a bad drug attorney.
If your loved one died after overdosing on opioids, 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?
In 3,400 B.C., people living in Southeast Asia discovered opium, a product created from the milky white substance that comes out of a poppy seed pod, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum. The act of smoking opium spread and resulted in opium dens springing up in Southeast Asia, China, Europe and even the United States, but it also was used medically as a sedative and a pain reliever. In the 1800s, the first group of opioids was created, consisting of morphine, codeine and heroin, and they were commonly prescribed to patients for the treatment of coughs, as well as moderate and severe pain.
The use of opioids expanded in the late 20th century with the launch of natural and synthetic compounds such as Oxycodone, Vicodin®, OxyContin®, Percocet®, Hydrocodone and Methadone, and they are used today for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe pain from conditions that include cancer, chronic headaches, back pain, spinal pain, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis. Today, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of hydromorphone, oxycodone and hydrocodone at 65, 80 and 99 percent.
Risks Associated with Opioid Use
Since the beginning, one of the biggest risks associated with opioid use is addiction and today, the number of people with a drug problem has grown to the extent that it has been declared a national epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that in 2016, opioid overdose passed traffic accidents as the No. 1 cause of injury deaths; more than 42,000 people died. Additionally, it was reported that prescription opioids were misused for the first time by 2.1 million people that same year and another 2.1 million struggled with addiction.
The Arizona Department of Health Services states that over a four-year period, from 2012 to 2016, overdose deaths attributed to prescription opioids and heroin continued to climb. For those who use heroin, it is estimated that every 4 out of 5 heroin addicts started out by using prescription painkillers for non-prescription purposes, but it is also important to note that in 2016, the number of pills prescribed – 431 million – would have provided a two-and-a-half-week supply of opioids to every person in the state, including children.
Opioid Legal Actions
Phoenix, Arizona, announced in 2017 that it was filing a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and distributors to hold them financially responsible for the city’s current opioid crisis, which has drained city resources as first responders try to deal with the problem. AZCentral states that pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars from opioid sales through marketing campaigns that were fraudulent in nature, downplaying the addiction risks associated with their drugs. The move comes after the state’s governor declared a statewide health emergency over the number of people who are addicted to opioids and have passed away after overdosing on them.
It is not the first lawsuit to be filed against drug companies or the firms that distribute these products by cities, states or those who have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose. The U.S. Justice Department charged Purdue Pharma in 2007 with falsifying claims regarding its opioid painkiller, OxyContin®, alleging that the company created fake scientific charts to give the impression that the risk of addiction to OxyContin® was extremely low. The company agreed to a plea deal that involved paying $600 million to victims and their families, and government fines for their fraudulent actions. In 2017, The Cherokee Nation, New York City, and other government entities filed their own multimillion-dollar lawsuits against companies they claim are responsible for the opioid crisis in their communities. These legal actions allege that companies deliberately targeted people in the working classes, and of lower income, as a way to boost sales, and downplayed the risks of opioids and 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.