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America's Opioid Epidemic: Are Doctors to Blame?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,000 Americans will be treated in an emergency room each day due to a complication with opioid use or the intentional abuse of an opioid prescription. Each year, approximately 15,000 people will lose their lives to opioid abuse and addiction, and the number is climbing annually. The CDC has also concluded that close to 50% of all opioid deaths involve a prescription opioid, not one obtained illegally.

What is going on to cause the opioid crisis of America? Who can be blamed for all of these deaths? The answer needs to be found if any sort of compensation can be rewarded to families who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction.

Opioid Prescriptions Being Overprescribed

There is much evidence to suggest that doctors are overprescribing opioids to patients who have undergone surgeries or who live with some sort of chronic, painful condition. Most notably, in 2016, there were about 66 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Americans for a total of more than 214 million opioid prescriptions. Given the known dangers of opioids, why would doctors prescribe them at such a high rate?

This is where liability for the opioid crisis becomes convoluted. When the three most popular opioid painkillers – methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone – first became prominent, drug manufacturers advertised them to doctors and medical groups as non-addictive. It would take several years of research and data collection to prove otherwise. By that point in time, the damage had been done and opioid prescriptions had already skyrocketed. Today, many doctors find themselves in a lose-lose situation, in which stopping a prescription for a patient could trigger withdrawals just as dangerous as continued opioid use.

Doctors often feel as if they do not have any other reasonable alternatives for patients who need painkillers. As hazardous as opioid use can be, the drugs are effective at stopping chronic discomfort and sharp pains. Opioid manufacturers have also been tenacious in their work at populating markets and pharmacies with opioids, making it difficult for many medical groups, especially in rural areas, to get alternatives.

Call Our National Pharmaceutical Litigation Attorneys

The abuse of opioids needs to stop, and the efforts begin with holding pharmaceutical manufacturers accountable for falsely reporting opioids as non-addictive. Attempting to sue individual doctors for overprescribing opioids is largely ineffective and only addresses the tail end of the crisis, not the source. Shrader & Associates L.L.P. and our pharmaceutical litigation lawyers are hearing claims from people affected by the opioid epidemic from coast-to-coast. If you think you have a genuine claim against an opioid drug manufacturer, let us know as soon as possible by contacting our firm and setting up a free case evaluation.

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