Opioid Overdose Lawsuit
An opioid overdose lawsuit may be a viable option for Oklahoma residents if they have lost a loved one because of an addiction to opioids. Addiction to opioid painkillers is a serious problem that often creates lifelong struggles for not only the person taking them, but for their family as well. In the past 30 years, opioids have become a popular treatment option for doctors and patients alike, and this has resulted in a national epidemic claiming the lives of tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year. Lawsuits filed by families, government entities and Native American tribes claim the cause of these deaths, and the enormous costs of dealing with the problem in their communities, are the deceptive actions of opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers. People who have been personally affected by the opioid crisis may be able to hold responsible parties financially accountable with the help of a bad drug attorney.
If you have a family member who became addicted to opioids and died as a result of that addiction, 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.
Where Opioids Come From
All opioids come either naturally or synthetically from opium, a drug that is harvested from the opium poppy seed pod and dates back to at least 3,400 B.C., according to Frontline. The drug starts out as a milky-white substance, which is then dried and smoked for the feelings of euphoria it creates; it earned the name “joy plant” by early users. Opium quickly became a popular drug, both recreationally and medicinally; doctors in the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Persian civilizations used it to control patients’ physical pain. In the late 1600s, opium was mixed with other ingredients to create the widely used medicinal treatment called laudanum.
Morphine was the first compound found within opium, and it was discovered in 1803 – a drug that is still administered by doctors today and is known as the most effective opioid for pain treatment. Heroin followed the discovery of morphine and by the early 1900s, it was being used in cough syrups for children and adults. When heroin was declared an illegal substance in 1924, about 60 years went by before the next opioids – Vicodin® and Percocet® – were released by pharmaceutical companies. Today there are a wide assortment of opioids available and these include OxyContin®, methadone, Tramadol®, fentanyl and Demerol®.
The Addictive Properties of Opioids
With the increasement of opioid prescriptions given out to patients came a sharp rise in the number of people who were becoming addicted to them, despite manufacturers’ claims that the drugs had a low rate of addiction. Addiction has always been a problem with opium and it sparked two wars between China and Great Britain when the Chinese tried to eradicate it from their country. Thousands of U.S. Civil War veterans reportedly struggled with addiction to opium and to morphine – so much so, the addiction was termed the “soldiers’ disease.”
Oklahoma has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic that has spread throughout the country; the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse Final Report states the following:
- Between 2014 and 2017, 1,300 babies were born with opioids in their system.
- Overdoses on opioids claim the lives of almost 1,000 Oklahomans each year.
- Out of those who are addicted to heroin, 80 percent started with prescription opioids.
- Overdose deaths rose 91 percent in the past 15 years.
The report also talks about addicts turning to more dangerous drugs, like heroin and fentanyl, when they can no longer access prescription opioids. The fentanyl that is purchased on the street is different from the fentanyl administered in hospitals; it has the ability to kill with just one dose.
Opioid Overdose Lawsuits
Oklahoma announced in June 2017 that it had filed a lawsuit against four companies it considers to be responsible for the opioid epidemic ravaging its communities. The lawsuit claims that Janssen, Cephalon, Allergan and Purdue Pharma led doctors and the public to believe that their opioids were more effective than they actually were, marketed their products as having very little risk of addiction, and deceived patients and the medical community as a way to sell more of their drugs. As of the date of this writing, the defendants in the case have filed a motion to move the trial, which was originally scheduled to begin at the end of May 2018, from Cleveland County District Court to a federal court.
Since 2004, numerous lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts by families, who have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose; cities; counties; states; and Native American tribes. The first case involved Purdue Pharma and the pharmaceutical firm settled it in 2006, agreeing to pay claimants, including the U.S. Department of Justice, a total of $600 million after investigators found evidence showing the company falsified charts concerning the safety and effectiveness of its opioid, OxyContin®. In the past year, multimillion-dollar settlements were reached in a some of the other lawsuits involving opioid distributors, including a $20 million payment to West Virginia.
The Time You Have to File a Claim is Limited. Contact Us Today.
For more information, contact the Oklahoma 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.