Law

How to Determine Liability in an Opioid Lawsuit

Jimmy Rustling
Written by Jimmy Rustling

Currently, the country is witnessing a historic opioid lawsuit. Thousands of cities have been preparing for years against drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies across the U.S.

Calling the case massive is an understatement, but that brings us to a question closer to home. Who is liable in an opioid lawsuit in Houston?

For all your questions regarding opioid lawsuits and advice, contact Houston opioid lawyers. Here are some of the basics you need to know:

What are opioids?

Opioids are the class of prescription drugs that help alleviate pain. They are some of the most common drugs, so much that in 2016 alone, doctors wrote 289 million opioid prescriptions.

However, they also have high abuse potential. By 2018, over 218 people died of an opioid overdose every day. Opioids include prescription pain relievers, synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, and illegal ones like heroin.

Many medical clinics were dubbed as “pill mills” for over-prescribing such narcotics.

Commonly abused opioids are:

  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone

How bad are opioids?

Opioids were originally used for chronic pain relief and for post-surgical pain. Slowly, they became the go-to medicine for healthcare providers. They prescribed it for anything from mild physical trauma to a severe car or sports injury.

The drugs work by blocking the pain receptors in the brain and causing a pleasant feeling. Users become addicted to this sensation, and since a doctor prescribed it, they think it is safe.

25% of abusers that take legal opioids go on to try illegal narcotics. Addicted pregnant women may give birth to babies with severe health issues. Taking more than recommended doses can also lead to death.

Opioid lawsuits and allegations

Individual plaintiffs file most opioid overdose cases. Other than that, schools, government agencies, counties, and cities can also file opioid lawsuits.

The primary allegations are that the prescribed drugs were supposedly not addictive when taken as recommended. People who lost their loved ones due to opioid overdose can sue their doctors. Cities and authorities file the case to recover the costs of managing the opioid epidemic.

Some cases are against pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuits claim that the manufacturers concealed the danger of using opioids and a high propensity for addiction.

Other defendants of the claims are corporations and third-parties that promote the use of opioids and pay for advertising endorsements. Ultimately, the lawsuits allege that they encouraged opioid abuse.

Who are opioid lawsuits filed against?

  • Drug manufacturers for deceptive marketing tactics
  • Corporations for ordering large shipments of opioids
  • Hospitals and medical professionals for excessive use of opioids and writing numerous prescriptions
  • Negligent pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and wholesale distributors

Last year, the FBI’s Houston Field Office found 41 people guilty in an opioid ring. They were responsible for distributing 23 million pills across the country.

How to prove liability in an opioid overdose case?

It is challenging to determine liability in an opioid lawsuit. In most instances, the person who has had an overdose might have taken medicine willingly. So, it is hard for the plaintiff to prove that their loved ones are the victims.

However, in the case of mass tort lawsuits, drug makers or wholesale distributors can be held responsible. Until now, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical, and Purdue Pharma are some of the notable companies that are defendants in the lawsuits.

In 2019, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy, which is a part of the case settlement. It had to defend itself from 2,600 government and non-government entities. Houston counties were also among those that signed the proposal.

The above-mentioned national opioid lawsuit involves 41 American states and multiple municipalities. Other states are soon to follow. The case is under investigation, and several drug manufacturers are under scrutiny.

Defendants will argue that the affected persons were responsible for the damages caused. They may insist that the patients didn’t consume the drugs exactly as directed.

However, experienced Houston opioid lawyers can hold such entities liable if:

Drug companies and pharmacies:

  • They used illegitimate marketing methods
  • Promoted undue use of drugs
  • Made errors in filling the prescriptions
  • Displayed inadequate warnings on their products

Healthcare providers:

  • Misdiagnosed an underlying health condition
  • Wrote an improper prescription for opioids
  • Failed to recognize the signs of abuse and addiction
  • Recommended incorrect dosage for pain relief
  • Didn’t suggest non-opioid painkillers or alternative medication

The city of Houston has previously filed a lawsuit against more than 12 opioid manufacturers and distributors. The state designed a new law that came into effect in September 2019 to curb the opioid epidemic. It limits the prescriptions for acute pain after injury or surgery to 10 days, with no refills.

However, there may be some scrupulous medical professionals or pharmacists that are reckless. Consult your Houston opioid attorney to help you get the right compensation.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.