An opioid overdose lawsuit may be an option for people in Georgia mourning the loss of a loved one due to an addiction to opioids. Opioids are used by medical professionals for the treatment of severe pain, but they have qualities that induce addiction and that addiction is extremely hard for people to overcome. Many times, the need for the opioid is so strong that it leads people down dark paths like criminal behavior, homelessness and death, leaving family members to question how such a thing could have happened. Many have sought to hold the companies that manufacture, distribute and sell opioids responsible financially for the devastation, alleging these companies knew the risks and deliberately targeted the public with falsified data. People who have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose may be able to seek compensation from the responsible parties with the assistance of a bad drug attorney.
If your loved one died of an opioid 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.
Opioids and Their History
Many people are unaware that opioids can be traced back to at least 3400 B.C. in Southeast Asia, and to one natural substance found on the seed pod of a poppy – opium. It is unknown who first discovered opium or realized that when it was dried and smoked it would produce a euphoric feeling in the user, but it soon became known as the “joy plant,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was used primarily for recreational use, but ancient records from the Egyptians and Romans show they knew opium possessed medical properties as well, and used the drug to treat female diseases, pain, and as an anesthesia.
Frontline states opium was used to develop Laudanum in 1606, morphine in 1803 and heroin in 1895, which were used by doctors to treat people with bodily pain. Heroin became illegal to prescribe in the United States after the Heroin Act was passed by Congress in 1924. For the next fifty years, opioids were rarely prescribed to patients, but then in the 1970s, a set of new opioids were released called Vicodin ® and Percocet ®, launching a new era that produced more opioids as doctors increasingly began to prescribe them again to management their patients’ pain.
An Addiction Epidemic
With the launch of morphine and heroin in the 1800s came the first opioid addiction epidemics; morphine addiction was termed the “soldier’s disease” after thousands of Civil War veterans became addicted to it and heroin was discovered to be more potent since it was a purer and stronger compound of opium. To regain control of the situation, the Heroin Act was created, and while it did result in a reduction of people becoming addicted to opioids, heroin turned into a street drug that was consumed illegally.
Since the 1970s, several opioids have been developed and marketed by pharmaceutical companies, but as more opioids are prescribed, the number of people turning into addicts has soared, leading to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s declaration of a national opioid epidemic – the worst ever. In the state of Georgia, the overdose rate in 55 counties is higher than the national average overdose rate and Georgia consistently ranks in the top 11 states for fatal opioid overdoses, according to the State of Georgia Office of Attorney General. Additionally, the number of opioids shipped into the state for prescription use equaled to giving every person, including children, 54 doses or more than 541 million between 2016 and 2017.
Legal Actions Concerning Opioids
Alleging that distributors and manufacturers failed to properly monitor the number of opioid prescriptions in their communities, four of Georgia’s counties and one city filed a lawsuit in February 2018, seeking compensation for the economic damages they have suffered as a result of the epidemic, according to the Rome News-Tribune. Since then, other cities in Georgia have decided to join the lawsuit, hoping such a move will result in a financial solution to their individual opioid epidemics that includes more Narcan, which is a drug administered by police officers to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Georgia municipalities are some of the many lawsuits that have been filed nationwide against companies over the opioid epidemic. In 2007, Purdue Pharma was charged with creating fake charts to convince doctors that their opioid, OxyContin ®, posed a low addiction risk, by the U.S. Department of Justice and agreed to a settlement that included $600 million for fines and payments to families that had filed their own suits against the company. In 2017, McKesson Corporation was banned from sending opioids to five states as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for not reporting suspicious orders of opioids to those states.