An opioid overdose lawsuit may be an option for Floridians who have lost a close family member to opioid addiction. Since the discovery of opium by early civilizations in Southeast Asia, addiction to opioids has been a challenge and as the number of opioids has grown, so too has the number of people who have died after overdosing on them. The latest epidemic, which has spread throughout the U.S., was fueled, some say, by the aggressive and allegedly deceptive marketing practices engaged in by pharmaceutical companies. Lawsuits filed by cities, counties, states and families claim that these companies downplayed the risk of addiction associated with their prescription medications and encouraged physicians to prescribe them freely to patients. People whose loved one has died after taking opioids may be able to seek compensation from the parties responsible with the help of a bad drug attorney.
If your loved one developed an addiction to opioids and died from an overdose, 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 and are either synthetic or natural compounds used for the pain treatment of medical conditions such as migraine headaches, arthritis, broken bones, pulled muscles, cancer, chronic back pain and degenerative disc disease. There are several prescription and non-prescription opioids available today and these include the following:
Some opioids can be found on the street or in a hospital, such as fentanyl, which is used for people suffering from severe, painful conditions like cancer or a terminal illness.
The first medical use for opium (the original opioid) was documented as far back as the Egyptian and Sumerian kingdoms, but the drug was also a common export and import item, which brought in a lot of money for the civilizations that traded in it. Opium is harvested from the seed of the opium poppy pod as a white, milky substance that is scraped from openings and then dried before it can be consumed by smoking. It was extremely popular as a recreational substance due to its effect of joy on those who used it, and opioids continue to be sought for the same reason today.
Opioids’ Addiction Risks
Documentation by medical experts and researchers shows that opioids can successfully treat painful conditions, giving sufferers their life back, but it can also lead to a destructive addiction that takes the user down dark paths, including overdose and death. While many claim that only those who take more opioids than their doctor recommends, or those who use opioids for non-medical conditions, will develop an addiction, this is actually incorrect. Documentaries on opioid addiction show how people were injured, prescribed opioids and then became addicted to them, often turning to stronger substances like heroin or synthetically-made fentanyl.
In May of 2017, Florida’s governor officially declared a public health emergency over the rising numbers of people dying in the state from an overdose on opioids, according to NBC News. Statistics for 2015 report that 33,000 people died in connection with opioid overdose and 12 percent, or 3,896 of those deaths were Floridians. In an effort to stem the tide of deaths from powerful opioids, the state has enacted a drug-induced murder charge to prosecute those who are selling opioids that result in the death of someone, and in March 2018, the governor signed a bill that limits the amount of opioids doctors can prescribe to patients.
In 2017, the state of Florida announced it would be joining other states in an investigation concerning opioid manufacturers and their marketing practices, but as of April 2018, it has not chosen to file a lawsuit – yet. However, the Orlando Sentinel reported in February of 2018 that Osceola County is the first in the state to take legal action, filing its own lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and distributors of opioids. The lawsuit alleges that advertisements, as well as educational and scientific material, from the companies claimed their prescription drugs were the best to use for the treatment of pain and that the risks of addiction were minimal.
Since 2007, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against drug manufacturers, physicians, distributors and pharmacies by families grieving the loss of family members, towns, major cities, counties, states and the federal government. Many of these suits have settled out of court with the companies paying millions, the largest settlement to-date involved Purdue Pharma who agreed to pay $600 million in federal fines and to families after the U.S. Department of Justice discovered that the company had forged charts used to market their opioid, OxyContin® as a safe and effective pain treatment.