Opioid addiction is claiming the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans across the country. Many who suffer from addiction were introduced to opioids through their own doctors, trusting that the prescriptions they took were safe. But the facts reveal that nothing could be further from the truth. Worse, manufacturers were aware of the addictive nature of their products and pushed them on the public anyway.
The medical community has jumped into prescription painkillers with both feet. Here’s what we know:
- Well over 200 million opioid prescriptions were written for patients in 2016 alone. That’s over 66.5 prescriptions for every 100 patients;
- 20 percent of patients are prescribed opioids for non-cancer pain by their primary care providers;
- Prescription opioids were abused by over 11 million individuals in 2016;
- 1,000 patients are taken to emergency rooms every single day somewhere in this country after misusing their prescription opioids;
- Four in 10 deaths related to opioids are due to prescription medications;
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates the cost of misused prescription opioids—health care, treatment for addiction, impacts on the criminal justice system, and decreased productivity–at nearly $80 billion annually
Purdue Pharma’s Part in the Problem
Clearly, the problem is significant. How did it become so overwhelming? The answer leads us to Purdue Pharma, the company that pushed OxyContin into the marketplace with claims that it had no knowledge of the potential for abuse. The Justice Department has found otherwise. According to a Justice Department report, Purdue had knowledge of key problems related to its medicine, including:
- The pills were being abused by being crushed into a powder and snorted;
- Pills were being stolen from pharmacies;
- Some physicians were being charged with writing prescriptions in exchange for money;
- Purdue’s salespeople used terminology such as crush, snort, and street value in over 100 internal notes and memos;
- Dangers of the drug were reported to company owners, the Sackler family, who responded by placing blame for addiction flatly on patients;
- OxyContin had a higher street value than other prescription opioids; and
- Drug representatives were given incomplete, outdated information about the drugs they were promoting;
Nonetheless, Purdue marketed OxyContin as a pain reliever that was less likely to result in addiction or abuse than other pills on the market. While prosecutors wished to charge company execs with felonies, the case was instead settled out of court. Executives paid out over $600 million in fines and completed community service, but they all avoided jail time.
Has Prescription Addiction Impacted your Family?
If you or a loved one has suffered prescription addiction, who is responsible? While Big Pharma would love to blame patients for their addiction, it is clear that dangerous drugs were marketed as safe and efficient pain relief. Instead, millions of Americans have become hooked on substances were prescribed by trusted medical professionals. If you’d like to explore options to go after the parties that contributed to addiction, the Falkowitz Law Firm can help. Get a Long Island dangerous drugs attorney working for you by calling 844-GET-GARY today.
Gary P. Falkowitz is the Managing Partner and Founding Attorney of the Falkowitz Law Firm PLLC‚ one of the premiere personal injury law firms in New York. Gary received his J.D., in 2005 from St. John’s University School of Law and served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.