An opioid lawsuit may be an option for people who have experienced serious complications or the loss of a loved one due an opioid overdose. Opioids are a class of drugs used to treat and reduce acute and chronic pain. Although opioids can be effective at reducing pain when used as prescribed, there are potentially serious, often deadly, risks associated with opioid addiction and abuse, including opioid withdrawal and overdose death. Affected patients and their families may be able to pursue a claim and recover compensation with the help of a dangerous drug attorney.
If you or a loved one have been adversely affected by a potentially dangerous drug, 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 attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Have You Seen an Opioid Lawsuit Commercial?
You may have seen an opioid lawsuit commercial on television and wondered whether you or a loved one have been affected by prescription painkillers and similar drugs and, if so, whether you are eligible to pursue a claim against the drug manufacturer or distributor. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information about lawsuits and other litigation involving prescription opioids so that you have a better understanding of your options.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that bind to receptors in the brain or body. Prescription opioids are most often used to treat and reduce pain and may include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Prescription opioids are divided into two main categories: (1) immediate-release (IR) medications, usually intended for use every four to six hours; and (2) extended-release/long-acting (ER/LA) products, which are typically used once or twice a day, depending on the medication and patient.
Despite dangerous, often deadly, risks associated with the misuse of prescription painkillers and the lack of evidence to support their long-term effectiveness, the use of prescription opioids to treat chronic, non-cancer pain has dramatically increased within the past fifteen years. According to the FDA, “approximately 100 million people in the United States suffer from pain.” Additionally, 9 to 12 million of those people suffer from chronic or persistent pain, while the remainder have short-term pain from injuries, illnesses, or medical procedures.
Opioid Side Effects
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common side effects of prescription opioids may include:
- Physical dependence
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
- Sleepiness and dizziness
- Low levels of testosterone that can result in lower sex drive, energy, and strength
- Itching and sweating
Other, less common side effects may include delayed gastric emptying, hyperalgesia (an increased sensitivity to pain), immunologic and hormonal dysfunction, muscle rigidity, and myoclonus (twitches, jerks or seizures caused by muscle contractions).
Although opioids can potentially provide significant pain-relieving effects for patients when used as directed for their approved indications, there are serious risks associated with opioid use, including:
- Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS)
According to researchers with the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and Epidemic Intelligence Service, drug overdose deaths – as well as opioid-involved overdose deaths – nearly tripled in a fifteen-year span between 1999 and 2014.
Opioid Addiction and Epidemic
While the use of opioids to treat acute or terminal pain is accepted; however, the use of opioids for long-term treatment of chronic pain (particularly in noncancer patients) remains controversial.
According to researchers at the Millennium Pain Center, the psychological addiction often associated with prescription opioids has been well-documented even as opioid availability increased. The crisis has reportedly continued to swell in recent years, and many doctors and researchers have called on the federal government to step up in some way.
On October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, according to a report issued by NPR.
Trump had originally said he would declare the opioid epidemic a “national health emergency” in August 2017, but instead reportedly opted for the “more appropriate” determination in October. The declaration opens up the availability of some resources for treatment options.
On March 22, 2016, the FDA announced enhanced warnings for immediate-release opioid pain medications related to risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death. According to the press announcement, the FDA is requiring class-wide safety labeling changes for IR prescription opioid medications indicating serious risks related to misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death.
The agency’s press announcement also notes similar class-wide labeling changes in 2013 for ER/LA opioid analgesics that included modifications to the products’ indications, limitations of use, and warnings, such as boxed warnings to more effectively communicate to prescribers the serious risks associated with these drugs.
The FDA has issue other safety communications and warning letters to drug manufacturers regarding the use, misuse and abuse of prescription opioids and other painkillers as far back as 2003. The agency has sought to curb opioid abuse in light of the opioid epidemic affecting millions of Americans each year and has reportedly encouraged pharmaceutical companies to aid in that help as well.
Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
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Has There Been an Opioid Recall?
On June 8, 2017, the FDA requested that Endo Pharmaceuticals remove Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride), an opioid medication, from the market based on concerns that the benefits of the drug may no longer outweigh the risks. The agency’s decision came after a review of all postmarketing data, which “demonstrated a significant shift in the route of abuse of Opana ER from nasal to injection following the product’s reformulation.” This type of abuse is reportedly linked to an increased risk of HIV and hepatitis C.
Is There an Opioid Class Action Lawsuit?
At the time of this article’s publication, an opioid class action lawsuit action has not been filed on behalf of those injured or due to the loss of a loved one. Opioid lawsuit attorneys are doubtful that a class action will be certified for patients who are adversely affected by the device.
Instead, a growing number of lawsuits have been filed against painkiller and opioid manufacturers, alleging negligence, false advertising and aggressive marketing tactics may have led to the opioid epidemic.
In September 2017, numerous plaintiffs have asked that all lawsuits filed in the federal court system to be consolidated and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio for discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
When cases are consolidated in this way in federal court it is called multidistrict litigation (MDL), and on a state level it is known as a state court consolidated proceeding. MDLs are distinct from class actions, and it is generally agreed that consolidating cases instead of proceeding in a class action is a more efficient and effective way of handling claims arising from injuries caused by dangerous drugs.
In most cases that proceed in an MDL or state court consolidated proceedings, after a certain period of time initial trials, also known as bellwether trials, take place. The purpose of these trials is for the parties to get an idea of the types of evidence and arguments that will made, as well as to see how juries will respond to the evidence and arguments. After a certain number of cases have been tried, the parties are in a better position to determine whether a case can be settled.
Have There Been Any Opioid Lawsuit Settlements?
Some dangerous drug lawsuits may settle early in the claims process. However, it is not expected that there will be any opioid lawsuit settlements at this time. Instead, it is expected that opioid lawsuits will be consolidated in federal court through an MDL. Opioid lawsuit attorneys note that the outcome of any case is never guaranteed and past results are not necessarily predictive of future outcomes.
Opioid Lawsuit News
- October 2017According to a report published by NPR, President Donald Trump declares the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” two months after Trump declared he would declare the epidemic a national emergency.
- September 2017According to a transfer order, a request was made for all lawsuits filed in the federal court system to be consolidated and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
- August 2017Plaintiffs in South Carolina join a growing list of plaintiffs filing lawsuits over alleged opioid addiction and overdose deaths linked to OxyContin and other prescription painkillers.
- June 2017FDA requests that Endo Pharmaceuticals remove Opana ER from the market over concerns that the drug’s benefits may no longer outweigh the risks.
- August 2016FDA announces that it is requiring class-wide changes to drug labeling, including patient information, to help inform health care providers and patients of the serious risks related to the combined use of certain opioid medications and benzodiazepines.
- March 2016FDA announces enhanced warnings for immediate-release opioid pain medications related to risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death.
How an Opioid Lawsuit Attorney Can Help
Drug 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 drug maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured by opioids or other similar drugs, including prescription painkillers, may be eligible to recover money for:
Pain and Suffering
The families of those who have died from an opioid overdose may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.