Oxycontin is a brand name time-release formula of oxycodone, an opioid painkiller that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995. The Oxycontin maker is Purdue Pharma, which was created by members of the Sackler family who are doctors. Hailed as a medical marvel for pain management at the time of its release in 1996, Oxycontin provides relief from chronic pain related to injuries, arthritis, cancer, and other conditions for up to 12 hours.
The time-release factor that Oxycontin provides differentiates it from other prescription narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin, which is typically taken every 4-6 hours. Being free of pain for 12 hours -- which Oxycontin provides -- is pivotal for patients who need around-the-clock pain care.
Although Oxycontin was initially viewed as a breakthrough, the controversial drug has been at the center of prescription opioid and unprescribed opioid lawsuits that involve addiction. The use of this and other powerful opiates has contributed to a national public health crisis resulting from both prescribed and recreational use of drugs from large pharmaceutical companies.
Oxycontin use has been linked to numerous side effects including dizziness, vomiting, headaches, itching, constipation, dry mouth, sweating and faintness, depression, and mood swings. More severe side effects include breathing problems, loss of consciousness, abnormal heartbeats, and heart attacks. However, the most significant basis for many of the Oxycontin lawsuits is that its highly addictive nature was not properly disclosed by Purdue.
Numerous lawsuits are based on the notion that physicians overly prescribed Oxycontin to patients who then became addicted. Many users were able to remove the protective, time-release coating and snort or inject the massive dose all at once (which often led to addiction). When their prescriptions ran out, some users turned to heroin and other illegal narcotics.
Regardless of side effects, any product must be safe for consumers to use. Purdue Pharma, the drug company that manufactures Oxycontin, has a duty to warn consumers of the risks that accompany the use of their drug. When Purdue fails to do this or does something to put consumers at risk, then the company is liable to those who have suffered damages. There must be a connection between side effects or other risks (such as addiction) of Oxycontin that can be traced to the company's actions in order to prevail in an Oxycontin lawsuit. In some cases, physicians who have wrongly or overly prescribed Oxycontin also can be sued.
Although anyone affected can file a lawsuit, many of the actual users of Oxycontin aren't the plaintiffs for much of the Oxycontin litigation. Rather, the plaintiffs are more likely the families of victims who have died due to their addiction or overdoses. Additionally, plaintiffs are generally counties, cities, local governments, and states that have suffered economic hardships as a result of the opioid epidemic.
The trouble with Oxycontin arose during the early 2000s when 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. This is the crux of much of the litigation: Purdue Pharma supposedly downplayed the drug's risks, overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic rather than short-term pain, and contributed to the opioid crisis by encouraging prescriptions of Oxycontin through aggressive marketing tactics.
Individuals and family members that prevail in a lawsuit against the drug maker can recover the following:
The opioid epidemic takes a toll on many people both emotionally and economically. If you or someone that you care about has been negatively impacted by Oxycontin use, then you should consider talking to an experienced attorney who can help you determine whether to pursue an Oxycontin lawsuit. Get started today with a free initial case review.
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