An opioid overdose lawsuit may be an option for Arkansas families who have lost a loved one to addiction. Declared a national epidemic, opioid addiction has consumed not only people’s entire lives, but has affected families and whole communities as they struggle to combat the issue and save people from dying. Lawsuits filed by these parties allege that pharmaceutical companies and distributors are responsible, targeting lower-income communities and flooding them with opioid pills while claiming that they were safe to use – that few people became addicted to them. Therefore, grieving families 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?
Opioids come from opium, a natural substance found in the poppy’s seed pod that is dried and then smoked. Opium has been used as a medical treatment and an aphrodisiac since at least 3,400 B.C., starting in Southeast Asia and then spreading throughout parts of Europe, China and eventually to the United States. As the science of chemistry developed, opium became a subject of study and in the 1500s and 1800s, chemists succeeding in separating out chemical compounds that became known as morphine, laudanum, codeine and then heroin.
Today, opioids consist of both natural and synthetic substances, and they are used to treat a wide range of medical conditions that include the following:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Nerve damage
As the conditions indicate, opioids are primarily used for the relief of pain and have become more popular due to a change in the medical community that has put more focus on managing patients’ pain and comfort levels.
Opioids and the Risks
While there are many risks associated with prescription drugs, opioids are considered especially dangerous because of their addictive qualities. The first opioid epidemic in the U.S. took place after the Civil War when injured soldiers on both sides were given morphine for their severe pain and consequently, it was termed “soldier’s disease.” When heroin was created as a watered-down version of morphine in 1898, it replaced morphine as doctors believed it less addictive, but in actuality, heroine was a purer form and therefore, more addictive. As morphine addicts turned to heroine, the number of affected people and overdoses increased, leading to congressional action that banned heroine as a medical drug.
Doctors then refrained from giving patients opioids, unless they had a terminal condition or a severe long-term medical condition, until the 1970s when Percocet® and Vicodin® were released onto the market. At the same time, medical experts came forward with research, gathered from clinical trials, that claimed these new opioids posed little threat of addiction to patients and therefore, they were safer to use. Pharmaceutical companies also sponsored literature that encouraged doctors to focus more on the comfort of their patients, and some patients and their families successfully sued medical providers for failing to do enough to provide relief. This resulted in a change and increase of opioid prescriptions, but as the number of prescriptions increased, so did the number of people becoming addicted to opioids and for the majority of them, their addiction led them to using heroin, thus launching the current opioid epidemic.
Opioid Overdose Lawsuits
The distribution rate of prescription opioids in Arkansas is higher than the national average, according to NWA news, and communities across the state have struggled to handle the costs associated with opioid addiction. As a result, 100 cities and 69 counties have joined forces and filed a lawsuit seeking appropriate compensation from drug manufacturers, claiming that they pushed their products onto patients, which led to the current challenges associated with opioid addiction. These challenges include the following: rehabilitation for addicts, response to overdose calls, criminal activity, medical care and education to educate people on the risks of opioids.
Over the past 10 years, several lawsuits have been filed against distributors and big Pharma companies by cities, counties, states, the Cherokee Nation and the U.S. government. In 2017, the distribution company, McKesson Corporation, was cited for sending larger shipments of opioids than needed to Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, and was banned from shipping any more opioids to those states. The company also agreed to pay $150 million in fines, but this was small compared to the $600 million that drug manufacturer, Purdue Pharma paid as part of a plea deal in 2007 after they were charged with committing fraud by the U.S. Department of Justice. An investigation revealed that the company created marketing charts with falsified data that claimed their drug, OxyContin®, posed little addiction risk to patients, which enabled them to achieve a sales revenue of $2.8 billion.
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.