The opioid crisis has plagued the United States for decades, and Florida has been one of its main victims. In May of 2018, it was reported that, of the top 100 doctors in the nation who were prescribing the most painkillers to patients, 98 of them were housed right here in Florida. Though most people associate the rise and reign of opioids with the 1990's, it does not take much research to uncover the fact that we, as a nation and a state, are still suffering from the repercussions of this deadly trend. Just this week, The Center Square reported that CVS and Walgreens has filed a third-party lawsuit against 500 nameless doctors. This lawsuit is in response to one initially filed against certain pharmacies to hold them accountable for their role in countless overdoses. Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have argued their innocence in the opioid crisis on the basis that pharmacists are not trained to diagnose or write prescriptions, so they do not view themselves as responsible for deciding who gets to have pain medicine and who does not. Naturally, this is just one of many tricky layers left to unveil as Florida fights to determine who is responsible for the loss of so many lives.
What is the Problem with Opioids?
Opioids are drugs that are used to subdue pain. On one end of the spectrum, opioids include illegal drugs like heroin and, on the other end of the spectrum, they include legal drugs given with prescriptions like oxycodone or hydrocodone. The problem is that during the 1990's, there was a trend in the United States for doctors to overprescribe these types of painkillers. The prescriptions were doled out with or without true knowledge or understanding of just how powerfully addictive these pills were. Subsequently, a plethora of addictions were formed and an incredible number of lives continue to be lost.
NPR estimates there have been tens of billions of dollars spent because of this crisis and that over 200,000 lives have been taken from drug overdoses. Nationally, it has created roughly a $78.5 billion burden on the nation with about 30,000 people dying every year from opioid abuse. In Florida alone, we averaged 18 opioid deaths a day in 2018. The numbers are devastating, so do not feel afraid to speak up if you have become a victim of this crisis. You are not alone, and we are here to help you recover financially from this trauma.
Many people assume that overcoming the addiction is the last step in surviving the opioid crisis. However, there are various negative side effects that someone can endure well after the addiction is gone.
Such side effects include:
- A tolerance for the drug
- Organ damage or failure
- Respiratory issues
- Sleep apnea
Are Manufacturers or Doctors to Blame for the Opioid Crisis?
While taking a prescription pill is absolutely an active and personal choice, there is still some responsibility on the shoulders of pill manufacturers and doctors who have over-prescribed opiates in the last few decades. For starters, manufacturers downplayed how addictive their products can be. For example, Purdue Pharma pled guilty in 2007 to marketing Oxycontin as less addictive than other narcotics, even though that was not the truth. On top of this kind of false advertising, with the growth of pain pill popularity also came the growth of generic pill manufacturers. These companies created very similar products to the major narcotics patients grew to know and love, and charged a smaller fee for them. These off-brand companies were also off-brand in their protocol and did not prioritize tracking their orders the way name-brand companies did. In other words, it was easier for suspiciously large orders to get past a non-brand manufacturer because there was not much of an accountability system in place. One of these companies was even approached by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2012 and asked to minimize the production of these generic pain pills. Instead of agreeing to make the change, the company's leader at the time declared their lack of responsibility for the opioid crisis. In their minds, they were only responsible for getting the pills created and delivered. Anything that happened in terms of prescriptions and consumption was, in their eyes, past their point of control.
In fact, the blame game has become so complicated that rogue sober homes are now being called into question. The Sober Homes Task Force was created to check the validity of sober homes, or homes meant to support addicts during their transition into sobriety. However, there is a growing trend for people to set up similar environments in hopes of swindling patients out of their money. The Sober Homes Task Force checks into reports of negligent behavior, racketeering, and patient brokering. Thanks to organizations like this, the owners of Pure Thoughts at Turtle Creek in Loxahatchee were brought to justice after the negligent deaths of three patients under their watch. There is no easy answer when it comes to tracking the source of blame for the opioid crisis. However, manufacturers, doctors, and rogue sober homes are proving to be good places to begin that search.
What are My Next Steps as a Victim of the Opioid Crisis?
If you or a loved one are the victim of the opioid crisis, you could be entitled to some kind of compensation. As you can see from the information above, this crisis has taken over our state for far too long. There are players in this game that have helped pave the way for this disaster, and it is time for them to be held responsible for their actions.
You can seek damages for certains costs if you have…
- Required rehabilitative treatment
- Babies/children who have consequently suffered
- Physical pain or suffering
- Mental anguish
- Experienced negligent health care
- Lost time at work
- Hired substitute services while recovering
- Lived at a rogue sober home
- A wrongful death
Chances are, this experience has already been daunting on you. That is why we are here. Contact a trusted lawyer today to get started on your next steps toward a cleaner life and a healthier you. You did not get to this point on your own, and we will be here to help bring those people to justice. Let us be the help you need to get what you are owed so that you can move on into your next phase of life.