Who’s Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic?
Over-prescription of opioid medications – along with the way these powerful drugs are marketed – has led to an epidemic of overdoses. In many instances, these overdoses have been fatal. Many cities and states across the country are taking action by filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of these drugs, claiming their marketing practices have contributed to the epidemic.
Spiraling Out of Control
More than 30,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015 alone – for the first time in U.S. history, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more people died due to overdoses than were killed in handgun homicides. State and federal lawmakers have tried to reduce the problem by passing laws to govern over-prescription, but the problem continues to worsen.
Plaintiffs in opioid lawsuits allege that the manufacturers of these drugs have deceptively marketed them to doctors. They claim that manufacturers routinely try to convince doctors to prescribe these powerful narcotics for relatively mild pain instead of the debilitating problems they were designed to treat. Lawsuits allege these manufacturers have known for decades about how addictive opioids can be, yet put profits ahead of safety by trying to broaden their markets.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in 2016 that it would require certain opioids to carry “black box” warnings that inform users of the possible risks of addiction and fatal overdose. These warnings state that opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone should only be used when pain is severe and no other treatments have worked.
Taking the Next Step
But warnings will only go so far. In order to truly affect change, many state and local governments realize they will need to take legal action against manufacturers for allegedly deceptive marketing practices.