Oxycontin Lawsuit Overview
OxyContin is a brand name for the generic opioid painkiller oxycodone. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug in 1995. Purdue Pharma manufactures OxyContin. Purdue was founded in 1892 and sold to members of the Sackler family in 1952.
- Chronic pain related to injuries
- Post-surgery recovery
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn's disease
The manufacturer claims that OxyContin provides pain relief for up to 12 hours. The drug was first celebrated as a wonder drug since it seemed to help patients suffering from chronic pain.
Is Addiction a Side Effect of Oxycontin?
OxyContin has many side effects. The most severe side effect is addiction. Studies show that patients can become addicted to the drug in five days. Plaintiffs in the OxyContin litigation allege that its addictive nature poses a danger to many patients.
The problem for many plaintiffs and their doctors is that Purdue Pharma told them that addiction wouldn't be an issue with this medication. Many people don't think of addiction as being a side effect, but it is one of the bases upon which the FDA classifies the drug's safety.
The Drug Manufacturer Owes a Duty to Consumers
Regardless of side effects, all products, including prescription painkillers, must be safe for consumers or the manufacturer could face liability. Purdue Pharma should have warned consumers of potential risks associated with OxyContin. Since Purdue didn't honor this duty, the courts can hold them liable for damages.
The plaintiffs who sued the maker of OxyContin insisted that the drug manufacturer was responsible for the drug's side effects, especially its addictive nature. To recover damages, the plaintiffs' attorneys proved that the drug company's actions hurt their clients.
Questions the courts must address in such cases include the following:
- Did the drug company mislead the public about the drug and its risks?
- Did certain supposed risks present themselves, but the company still failed to disclose the potential danger?
- Did the drug manufacturer warn healthcare providers about their product's addictive nature?
The answer to these questions helps determine whether you have a good chance to recover damages.
Critics Argue OxyContin Hurts Patients and Communities
The medical community first applauded OxyContin as a breakthrough drug. However, in recent years, the drug has been at the center of the opioid addiction epidemic plaguing America. It has also spawned thousands of prescription opioid and unprescribed opioid lawsuits related to addiction.
It is easy to blame OxyContin users for their addiction. After all, many patients abuse their prescribed medication and find themselves addicted. Others become addicted after buying the drug through illegal channels. This is common for patients whose doctors refused to prescribe them the medication after months or years of use. How can a drug manufacturer be responsible for something like this?
The problem is that OxyContin and other opiates like oxycodone, fentanyl, and Vicodin are so addictive it is difficult for patients to stop taking them. Even in cases where a doctor attempts to wean their patients off the drug, addiction is still an issue.
These actions would not be enough to hold pharmaceutical companies liable. However, in this case plaintiffs argued that the drugmakers knew the drug was addictive and failed to warn patients and doctors of this risk. The drug company stated that the drug wasn't addictive.
Individual patients who became addicted to OxyContin can file suit, as can family members who lost their loved ones to addiction or overdose deaths. Additionally, some counties, cities, local governments, attorneys general, and states have filed OxyContin lawsuits. These claims allege the opioid epidemic caused economic hardships. As Reuters reported, many such cases have resulted in opioid settlements.
Origin of OxyContin Lawsuits
The first signs of trouble with OxyContin arose during the early 2000s. During that time, opioid overdoses and deaths began to increase dramatically. In response, Purdue Pharma changed OxyContin's label by adding stronger warnings about the possibility of misuse and abuse of the drug. By then, the FDA had already issued a warning letter to Purdue Pharma for using misleading advertising statements.
When OxyContin was a relatively new drug, physicians were reluctant to prescribe it to their patients. Claims in some OxyContin lawsuits allege that Purdue Pharma gave the healthcare community assurances through a strong marketing campaign that OxyContin patients were not likely to become addicted.
After they saw these advertisements, prescribers increased the amount of OxyContin prescriptions they issued. Some allegations plaintiffs made against Purdue Pharma include:
- They downplayed the drug's risks
- They overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic rather than short-term pain
- They contributed to the opioid crisis by encouraging prescriptions of OxyContin through aggressive marketing tactics
In some cases, plaintiffs have named physicians who have incorrectly or overly prescribed OxyContin in their complaints. Doctors are only supposed to prescribe drugs in approved doses and quantities. They are only allowed to prescribe a medication like OxyContin for certain medical conditions.
Damages in OxyContin Lawsuits
The reason people have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma is because they want compensation for their losses. Some of the damages these plaintiffs are demanding include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income due to missed work, withdrawal symptoms, or time in a treatment center
- Lost future income
- Treatment costs, including rehabilitation costs
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Emotional distress
In May 2023, a federal appeals court approved a plan that would shield the Sackler family from future lawsuits related to the opioid epidemic. The plan would allow Purdue to enter bankruptcy and begin settling thousands of lawsuits filed by states, hospitals, people who had become addicted, and others. Purdue's owners would receive immunity for their role in the opioid crisis in exchange for a multi-billion dollar settlement.
The U.S. Supreme Court paused bankruptcy proceedings concerning Purdue and its affiliates. The Court will hold oral arguments in December 2023 in the appeal of the lower court's ruling approving the plan. The ruling upheld the settlement that would shield the members of the Sackler Family from opioid-related lawsuits.
Get a Free Initial Review of Your OxyContin Claim
Opioid addiction and the American opioid epidemic have taken a toll on millions of people. If you or a loved one became addicted to OxyContin and suffered a loss, consider talking to an experienced personal injury attorney.
You may have a claim against:
- The drug manufacturer
- Your healthcare providers
- The pharmacies that filled your prescriptions
A product liability lawyer can help you determine whether to pursue an OxyContin lawsuit. They can also keep you up to date on how current litigation can impact your ability to make a viable claim. Get started today with a free initial case review.
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