Opioid Overdose Lawsuit
An opioid overdose lawsuit may be a viable option for people living in the state of Washington if they have lost a loved one because of an addiction to opioids. Opioids are used medicinally as a treatment for physical pain, but they pose a strong risk of addiction and over the last 20 years, as doctors have increasingly prescribed these drugs, millions of people have fallen victim to their power. Currently, the opioid epidemic that has affected the entire country claims the lives of tens of thousands of people every year – more than car accidents. Frustrated and overwhelmed, communities and families have filed lawsuits against opioid distributors, retailers, manufacturers and even doctors, alleging they are responsible for the devastation. People whose family member became addicted to opioids and then died from an accidental overdose on them may be able to hold responsible parties accountable with the help of a bad drug attorney.
If you have been personally impacted by the opioid epidemic, contact the 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 – Their History
In about 3,400 B.C., a civilization known as the Sumerians, discovered a substance that when smoked, produced feelings of great joy, according to Frontline, and they named the flower from which the substance came, the joy plant or Hul Gil. Today, we call that flower the opium poppy and the drug, which is harvested from its pod seed, opium. The power of this plant was so strong that it spread to other civilizations including the Greeks, Romans, Persians and Egyptians. Opium was not only popular as a recreational drug, but also as a medicinal source which could lower a person’s physical pain, and it was used for a wide range of medical problems.
In the 1800s, chemists began to examine opium and in 1803 and 1895, discovered two separate opioid compounds within the drug – morphine and heroin. The two new opioids were immediately embraced by the medical community: morphine was used with opium to treat wounded soldiers in the American Civil War and heroin was a listed ingredient in cough syrups for children and adults. However, opioids’ popularity diminished after the passing of the Heroin Act in 1925 and it wouldn’t be until the 1980s and 1990s that doctors would embrace the use of them again. This was due to new medical evidence that claimed modern opioids were highly effective; posed little risk of addiction; and that the most important thing, aside from the medical treatment, was making sure patients were comfortable and pain-free.
Addiction Rises Again
The addictive power of opioids has been evident since the discovery of opium – it generated two wars between China and Great Britain, as well as the first opioid epidemic in the United States. This occurred after the Civil War when soldiers and a large number of white southerners developed addictions to opium and morphine. Heroin, thought to be the answer for the epidemic, only made things worse since it was significantly stronger, and was declared an illegal drug through the Heroin Act. Thus, doctors were a bit reluctant when new opioids were released in the latter part of the 20th century, but were soon convinced that they were safe.
Doctors in Washington were among the believers, but as millions of prescriptions for opioids were handed out and prescription opioids became plentiful and easy to access, the numbers of people becoming addicted to them grew at an alarming rate. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General reports that accidental opioid overdoses were responsible for the deaths of 718 people in the state during 2015. Another report shows that between 2011 and 2016, the state paid out $34 billion just in handling deaths caused by an opioid addiction. To combat the number of overdoses, the city of Seattle announced it was budgeting for the building of a safe injection site where addicts could come, which is something that other cities have already implemented.
Opioid Overdose Lawsuits
The state of Washington announced it was filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in September 2017, alleging that the company, which makes a prescription painkiller called OxyContin®, is responsible for the high numbers of people becoming addicted to opioids. The pharmaceutical company filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but King County Superior Court denied the motion in April 2018. The lawsuit claims the company deceived the medical community and the public at large by representing opioids as a safe, long-term treatment for pain. It also alleges the company engaged in deceptive marketing practices as a way to sell the drug, making billions of dollars at the expense of patients.
Purdue Pharma was the subject of a federal lawsuit in 2004 and during the investigative process, the U.S. Department of Justice found evidence showing the company deliberately used incorrect information to convince doctors their opioid was safe and non-habit forming. The company settled the suit in 2007, agreeing that three of its executives would plead guilty to fraud charges and paying $600 million.
How a Washington Opioid Overdose Lawyer 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, may be eligible to recover money for:
• Medical Expenses
• Lost Wages
• Pain and Suffering
The families of those who have died may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.
The Time You Have to File a Claim is Limited. Contact Us Today.
For more information, contact the Attorney Group for Washington State. 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.