Opioids are a type of drug derived from alkaloid morphine, an incredibly addictive analgesic medicine derived from the opium poppy. Morphine is processed chemically to produce heroin and other synthetic opioids for medicinal and illegal recreational use.
Pharmaceutical companies in the late 1990s began reassuring the medical community opioids were not as addictive and patients would not abuse the prescription. Doctors then started prescribing opioids at a higher rate for conditions that didn’t merit such a strong pain medication.
After this surge of prescriptions, opioid overdose rates began to rise. In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died because of overdoses using prescription opioids in addition to heroin and illegally manufactured fentanyl (a potent synthetic opioid).
The issue has become so pervasive across the United States that it has been declared a public health crisis. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is prioritizing improving access to treatment and recovery, promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs, strengthening U.S. understanding of the epidemic, providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction, and advancing better practices for pain management.
Several counties across the United States have begun suing various pharmaceutical companies responsible for distributing and promoting the use of opioid medication for pain management. Families have also started suing for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones at the hands of opioid overdoses. For example, the family of a man who died of an overdose after years on multiple prescription medicines is suing Cephalon and Teva Pharmaceuticals for their role in his death. Cephalon is the same company that pleaded guilty to a criminal charge involving campaigns convincing physicians their products were less risky and more effective than evidence could demonstrate.
Likewise, doctors who are irresponsibly prescribing drugs as powerful as fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, are facing many medical malpractice suits for their negligence. A physician who doesn’t check a patient’s chart for evidence of addiction will be held responsible for that oversight if he or she later prescribes a dangerous and addictive opioid medication to the patient.
If your loved one was harmed by a negligent physician, give us a call. Our skilled Denver medical malpractice attorneys are ready to help.
Contact us at (303) 732-5048 to schedule your free case consultation today!