A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report shows 33,000 people died from overdosing on opioids and opiates in 2015. This includes both prescription drugs and heroin. How did we get to this point? Previous blogs have discussed how drugs like OxyContin are related to an increase in heroin usage. We have also discussed why opioid lawsuits may help hold drug companies accountable, so keep this in mind as you are reading.
The overprescribing of opioid medications created millions of new addicts, some of whom switched to heroin. Addicts who had their dosages decreased or prescriptions cut off turned to heroin because it is more readily available. Drug cartels have flooded the market in recent years. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the amount of heroin seized at the border quadrupled between 2008 and 2010. This is a main reason why overdose deaths have increased.
However, heroin has also become deadlier in recent years. Drug dealers are cutting their products with inexpensive synthetic chemicals like carfentanil to increase profits. Carfentanil is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. This synthetic chemical is so powerful, that an amount the size of a grain of sand can kill a person.
Are Prescription Opioids to Blame for A Nationwide Epidemic in Fatal Overdoses?
Would we be at this point if drug companies had not aggressively pushed opioids onto the market? If they had not lied to doctors and the public about the safety of these medications? At one point, Purdue Pharma claimed less than 1 percent of those taking OxyContin would become addicted. As such, doctors were encouraged to prescribe opioid medications for chronic pain.
In 2016, the CDC said, “the science of opioids for chronic pain is clear: for the vast majority of patients, the known, serious, and too-often-fatal risks far outweigh the unproven and transient benefits.”
Drug companies must be held accountable for helping create a major health crisis. Family members of those harmed by the opioid crisis may be able to pursue legal options against these companies for damages. The discovery phase during lawsuits may also help uncover more information on how the marketing strategies of drug companies contributed to this current crisis. Lawsuits can help families affected by prescription opioids seek justice while also helping educate the public.
The New Jersey defective drug attorneys at Keefe Law Firm can help you explore your available legal options.