Opioid Overdose Lawsuit
An opioid overdose lawsuit may be an option for people in Massachusetts who are grieving the loss of a loved one due to opioid addiction. Every year, thousands of people die after accidentally overdosing on opioids and the problem has been termed a national opioid epidemic by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Several government bodies and families have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacists and doctors, alleging they are responsible for the devastation caused by the epidemic, through their fraudulent and negligent actions. People who have lost a family member because of an accidental overdose on opioids may be able to seek appropriate compensation from the parties responsible with the help of a bad drug attorney.
If your loved one became addicted to opioids and then died accidently 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.
The Discovery of Opium
Opium was discovered in Southeast Asia around 3,400 B.C., according to the U.S. Drug and Enforcement Administration Museum, by ancient civilizations. It soon became known as the “joy plant” for its euphoric effects when it was smoked, and it became popular as an item of trade. Over the centuries, the drug found its way to the Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks, the British, the Chinese and eventually the Americans. It was primarily used as a drug of recreation, but doctors discovered that it also had the ability to act as a type of anesthetic and to relieve pain. In the 1800s, chemists began experimenting with the drug and discovered two new compounds within the opium that would be called morphine and heroin.
Morphine was commonly used by doctors during the American Civil War and is still in use today, acting as the main opioid that other opioids are compared to. Heroin was originally used for medicinal purposes in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but after it was declared an illegal substance in the mid-1920s, it could only be obtained through street dealers. Since the 1970s, many opioids have been developed – both from opium and morphine, and through a synthetic process in a laboratory, and these include the following:
One of the most powerful opioids still used medically is fentanyl, which is only prescribed in a hospital setting for severe medical conditions like cancer.
Opioids and Their Risks
Most people know that heroin is a dangerous street drug that can lead to overdose and death, but don’t realize the risks associated with prescription opioids – partly, because they are prescribed under the direction of a trained physician. As a general rule in the 1970s, doctors only used opioids in the most severe cases, but that changed in the late 1990s when scientific reports began appearing in medical journals that claimed the new opioids being produced were completely safe to give patients and were effective in reducing pain. As the number of prescriptions for opioids rose, though, so too did the number of people who became addicted to opioids, as well as the number of accidental drug overdoses.
Massachusetts.gov states that every year, there is a 7 percent increase in the number of opioid prescriptions given out. Furthermore, toxicology reports from 2011 to 2014 show that 83 percent of people who fatally overdosed on opioids had a legal prescription in the six months prior to their death, demonstrating the role that prescriptions have in the state’s epidemic.
Opioid Overdose Lawsuits
As of April 2018, more than 40 municipalities in Massachusetts have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and that number is expected to grow. One lawsuit alleges that pain clinics in small towns were used as a front for distributors to increase their profits by shipping millions of pills to those locations. Others state that deceptive marketing was engaged in by pharmaceutical firms to convince the public their opioids were safe, to use in order to sell their opioids and make a huge profit.
Across the country, dozens of lawsuits have been brought against companies and some have already been settled out of court for millions of dollars. In 2017, McKesson Corporation agreed to pay $150 million in fines to the U.S. Department of Justice for failing to report suspicious orders of opioids to several states; and a distributor, Cardinal Health, agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the state of West Virginia, agreeing to pay the state $20 million. The largest settlement to-date over the opioid epidemic was a $600 million payment from Purdue Pharma in 2007 over their opioid OxyContin®, after the U.S. Department of Justice uncovered data that the company had deliberately created charts regarding the safety of their product with information that was false.
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For more information, contact the Massachusetts Injury Attorney Group. You can fill out the form on this page or contact us by phone or email.
After you contact us, an attorney will follow up to answer questions that you might have. There is no cost or obligation to speak with us, and any information you provide will be kept confidential.
Please note that the law limits the time you have to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit for an injury. If you think you have a case, you should not delay taking action.