Did Big Pharm Behavior Cause the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

There is some significant evidence that pharmaceutical companies may have engaged in some activities that led to the opioid crisis. A Los Angeles Times investigation into Purdue Pharma, for instance, found that the drug maker, which marketed OxyContin as relieving pain for 12 hours, knew that the drug wore off before that time period. Since the drug didn’t last as long as promised, some patients suffered withdrawal, which led them to become addicted.

Commonly Prescribed Opioids

Statistics gathered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show prescriptions for opioids have increased from 76 million in 1991 to 207 million in 2013. Today, numerous big pharmaceutical companies produce dozens of addictive drugs that are contributing to the opioid epidemic:

Oxycodone: Well known drugs like OxyContin, Percocet and Roxicodone contain the drug oxycodone. A number of additional brands also contain oxycodone including: Endocet, OxyIR, Percolone, Dazidox, Endocodone, Oxaydo, Percodan, and Xtampza ER. These powerful drugs have become very common over the past 15-20 years. Purdue Pharma alone has made over $31 billion in revenue from sales of OxyContin.

Fentanyl: Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller. In fact, it is estimated fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Insys Therapeutics produces Subsys, a form of fentanyl that is sprayed underneath the tongue. Other brand names include Abstral, Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora and Onsolis.

Hydrocodone: Vicodin, Lortab, Norco and Lorcet contain hydrocodone. Additional brands include, Anexsia, Ceta Plus, Hycet, Maxidone, Stagesic and Zydone. These drugs also contain acetaminophen, which carries a risk of drug-induced hepatotoxicity (liver damage).

Hydromorphone: Drugs such as Dilaudid and Exalgo contain hydromorphone, which is approximately five times as powerful as oxycodone. It is sometimes prescribed in extended-release form for constant treatment of pain.

Oxymorphone: This narcotic is often used in conjunction with anesthesia and to treat anxiety. Endo Pharmaceuticals produces Opana and Opana ER, which contain oxymorphone.

Opioid Addiction Lawsuit Information

“They used bogus front organizations and fake research; they used fraudulent advertising and deceptive trade practices. And they repeatedly lied about the true risks of the drugs they sold.” Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley

Big pharmaceutical firms have contributed to one of the worst health epidemics in our county’s history. Due to their aggressive and deceptive marketing efforts, more than 2 million Americans are suffering from opioid addiction. Drug manufacturers have made billions of dollars while turning millions of Americans into addicts.

Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of many states and other government agencies. Attorneys believe that individuals who suffered as a result of the pharmaceutical companies’ “fraudulent advertising and deceptive trade practices” may also be due compensation for injuries, lost earnings, medical expenses, pain and suffering and more. Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine recently filed a lawsuit against a handful of pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit accuses the companies of spending millions on marketing campaigns that “trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.” The companies, the lawsuit alleges, lobbied doctors to influence their opinions about the safety of opioids, “borrowing a page from Big Tobacco.”

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