Oxycontin Lawsuit Overview
OxyContin is a brand name, time-release formula of oxycodone, an opioid painkiller. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug in 1995. Purdue Pharma manufactures OxyContin. The company was created by members of the Sackler family, who are doctors.
Released in 1996, drug makers claim OxyContin provides relief from chronic pain related to injuries, arthritis, cancer, and other conditions for up to 12 hours. The drug was initially celebrated as a medical marvel for pain management for those who battled chronic pain in their lives.
The time-release factor that OxyContin provides makes it different from other prescription narcotic painkillers. Another option like Vicodin is typically taken every 4 to 6 hours. Being pain-free for 12 hours — which OxyContin was supposed to provide — is pivotal for patients who need around-the-clock pain care.
OxyContin use is linked to numerous alleged side effects, including dizziness, vomiting, headaches, itching, constipation, dry mouth, sweating and faintness, depression, and mood swings. More severe alleged side effects include breathing problems, loss of consciousness, abnormal heartbeats, and heart attacks.
Is Addiction a Side Effect of OxyContin?
Still, the most significant allegation behind many of the OxyContin lawsuits is that the drug is addictive. Its addictive nature allegedly posed a danger to the health of many patients. These patients (and their doctors) were told addiction wouldn't be a problem.
Some might not think of addiction as a side effect. It is, however, a basis for how the FDA classifies the safety of drugs.
Regardless of side effects, any product must be safe for consumers to use. Legally, Purdue Pharma, the drug company that manufactures OxyContin, owes a duty to the public. A company is supposed to warn consumers of potential risks associated with their drug. If Purdue were to fail to do this or were to do something to put consumers at risk, then the company might be liable to those who suffer damages.
To hold a drug manufacturer responsible for side effects or other risks (like addiction), parties must be able to prove the drug company's actions directly endangered alleged victims. Did the drug company mislead the public about the drug and its risks? Did certain supposed risks present themselves over time, but the company still failed to disclose the potential danger?
Critics Argue OxyContin Hurts Patients and Communities
Although the medical community and patients initially accepted OxyContin as a breakthrough, the drug has been at the center of prescription opioid and unprescribed opioid lawsuits related to addiction. The use of this and other powerful opiates has contributed to a national public health crisis.
Patients abuse their prescribed medication. They get addicted. Others become addicted through the illegal purchase of the prescription drug for recreational purposes. Lawsuits have targeted the large pharmaceutical companies accused of being responsible for the addiction epidemic.
Individuals who claim a drug has harmed them can file a lawsuit. The OxyContin cases, however, often involve family members of victims as the plaintiffs. Family members sue drug companies because they allege their loved ones died from addiction or overdoses. Additionally, sometimes counties, cities, local governments, and states file OxyContin lawsuits. These claims allege the opioid epidemic caused economic hardships.
Origin of OxyContin Lawsuits
The trouble with OxyContin arose during the early 2000s. During that time, opioid overdoses and deaths began to increase. In response, OxyContin's label was changed to add and strengthen warnings about the possibility of misuse and abuse of the drug. However, the FDA issued a warning letter to Purdue Pharma for using misleading statements in their advertisements.
When OxyContin was a relatively new drug, physicians were reluctant to prescribe it to some of their patients. Some of the claims in OxyContin lawsuits allege that Purdue Pharma gave the health care community assurances through a strong marketing campaign that the OxyContin patients were unlikely to become addicted.
After the advertisements, prescribers increased the amount of OxyContin prescriptions. The following are the allegations against Purdue Pharma in much of the litigation:
- 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, physicians who have wrongly or overly prescribed OxyContin are targets of the lawsuits. Doctors are supposed to only prescribe drugs in approved doses and quantities. They should only prescribe a drug like OxyContin for medical conditions that call for it.
Recovery from OxyContin Lawsuits
Individuals and family members that prevail in a lawsuit against the drug maker could possibly recover the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income due to missed work, withdrawal symptoms or time in a treatment center
- Treatment costs including rehabilitation costs
- Funeral costs
A recent development related to the Purdue Pharma and OxyContin could complicate these drug liability cases. In Sept. 2021, a judge granted legal immunity to Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, their other businesses and many of their associates. This is likely a matter that will get more attention in the months to come, since many are disappointed with this recent decision.
Get a Free Initial Review of Your OxyContin Claim
The opioid epidemic takes a toll on many people, both emotionally and economically. If OxyContin or another prescription drug has hurt you or someone you care about, consider talking to an experienced attorney. A products liability lawyer can help you determine whether to pursue an OxyContin lawsuit. Get started today with a free initial case review.
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