The amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. in 2015 was “enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks,” according to a preliminary report from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

The Commission recommended in July 2017 that President Trump declare a national emergency on the opioid crisis, which isn’t limited to street drugs. According to the report:

“Since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses in America have quadrupled. Not coincidentally, in that same period, the amount of prescription opioids in America has quadrupled as well.”

“We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctors’ offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.”

Have you or a loved one suffered addiction, side effects or overdose because a doctor or hospital negligently prescribed opioid medications? If so, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for negligence, medical malpractice or wrongful death.

What are opioid painkillers?

Doctors commonly prescribe opioid pain relievers to patients after an injury, surgery, or to relieve chronic, severe pain. When properly prescribed, opioid painkillers can be effective.

However, many doctors prescribe opioid painkillers in excessive dosages or for a longer length of time than necessary. This negligent practice puts patients at risk for developing increased tolerance of the drug, overdose and even death.

Commonly prescribed opioid prescription painkillers include:

  • Vicodin
  • Norco
  • Zohydro
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Percodan
  • Generic oxycodone
  • Duragesic or fentanyl pain patch

Alarmingly, with the exception of federal prescribers, who are required to be trained, fewer than 20 percent of the over one million prescribers licensed to prescribe controlled substances actually have training on how to prescribe opioids safely, according to the President’s Commission’s report.

As a result, patients taking painkillers negligently prescribed by doctors often pay a price with their health or even their lives.

Prescription Painkiller Statistics

Nearly half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.

According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

  • More American adults in 2015 used prescription painkillers than used all tobacco products combined.
  • In 2015, 38 percent of American adults 26 years or older used prescription painkillers.
  • Among people aged 12 or older who misused pain pills, one-third misused a prescription painkiller from a doctor.

Data from the CDC also reveals a prescription painkiller crisis:

  • In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids.
  • As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
  • Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

Of the more than 33,000 opioid-related deaths reported nationwide in 2015, 1,186 were in Texas, according to a news release from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.

“Opioid painkiller abuse and related overdoses are devastating families here in Texas and throughout the country,” said Paxton.

Can I file a lawsuit for prescription painkiller injuries?

If you’ve suffered injuries, addiction or overdose due to negligently prescribed prescription painkillers, you may be able to file a lawsuit on behalf of yourself or a loved one.

Medical negligence cases are complex, though. You’ll be battling malpractice insurance companies and hospital attorneys who will do their best to get your lawsuit dismissed.

That’s why you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can file your lawsuit within your state’s statute of limitations, conduct discovery and hire experts to take your case to trial or help you fight for a substantial settlement.

Contact the Weycer Law Firm to Discuss Your Case for Free!

If you or someone you know has been affected by opioid or painkiller abuse, contact the Weycer Law Firm at (713) 668-4545. Discuss your case for free, you deserve justice.