Opioid Addiction – What They Knew, When They Knew It
The opioid addiction epidemic has been growing and plaguing millions of people for decades. Many claim its origin to a letter published in the respected New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 in which Boston University Medical Center researchers stated that, “despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.” This gave the green light for countless doctors to write millions of opioid prescriptions without being fully aware of the danger they were putting their patients in. Worse yet, the pharmaceutical companies deliberately downplayed the potential for addiction while greatly increasing their marketing budgets to promote their products.
What They Knew
The statistics on opioid use are staggering:
- Currently there are an estimated 8 million Americans on long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain and about one million are taking dangerously high doses. Some studies have shown that 25 percent of these patients may exhibit some level drug misuse.
- Opioid use has quadrupled since 1999.
- The U.S. consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids.
- The Center for Disease Control reports that 145 people die in the United States each day due to prescription painkillers and heroin.
- Four out of five heroin users started using illegal drugs when their prescription painkillers became too expensive or difficult to get.
When They Knew It
Opium use and it’s euphoric effects have been cited since 3400 BC. The Bayer Company of Germany introduced heroin for medical use in 1898. Oxycodone is synthesized from thebaine, a third component of opium. The addictive nature of this drug has been known for centuries, and here is just an example of OxyContin gives a glimpse into the modern day crisis:
1995 – The FDA approves OxyContin and yet Purdue Pharma conducted no clinical studies on how addictive or prone to abuse the drug might be. However, the FDA approves a package insert for OxyContin announcing that it’s less addictive than rival painkillers because of its unique delayed absorption formula.
1999 – Purdue Pharma funded a study that found that 13 percent of patients who used OxyContin for headaches became addicted to the medication, and yet failed to warn patients.
2003 – The FDA sends Perdue Pharma a warning letter about overstating the safety of OxyContin.
2007 – Three senior executives from the manufacturer of OxyContin, Purdue of Pharma, pleaded guilty to misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the addiction risk of their product.
2015 – Prescription opioid sales reach $9.6 billion.
What Can You Do?
Here is a list of common prescription opioids may cause addiction:
Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze, OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Tylox, Dilaudid, Fiorional with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine, Empirin with Codeine, Roxanol, Duramorph, Demerol, Viberzi
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland schedules trial dates for early 2019 for three lawsuits filed against drug companies concerning the nation’s opioid epidemic. Polster is presiding over more than 400 federal lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors in this bellwether case.
Many claims are being made by patients because drug manufacturers overstated the benefits of their opioid medications while minimizing the risks and dangers of addiction. Moreover, distributors failed to properly monitor suspicious orders of painkillers which also contributed to this excess of opioid prescriptions. If you or a loved one suffers from an opioid addiction, please contact us today. We may be able to help you to make a claim against these pharmaceutical companies who put profits over people’s lives.