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The root of the opioid drug crisis

Opioid drugs are creating havoc all over the country, killing as many as 100 people every day. A lot of people wonder how it suddenly got this bad -- especially when opioids were barely prescribed just a few decades ago.

For that, you may have the drug companies themselves to blame.

Over a decade ago, representatives from drug manufactures began courting physicians -- telling them that they had a fabulous new painkiller. Based on oxycodone and targeted to people with chronic pain, including back injuries, the pharmacies doubled down on its sales teams and passed out coupons for free trials.

Doctors -- and their patients -- were hooked. Prescriptions increased about ten times over a six year period. Unfortunately, what the doctors didn't realize is that patients could become addicted to the drug even when they took it as prescribed. It was also terribly easy to abuse. People who became dependent on the drug began seeking higher and higher doses until they eventually overdosed. Others, unable to continue getting the drug, switched to the easier-to-find heroin.

Some people see the drug crisis as a failure of the medical system overall, while others are taking the blame directly to the drug companies through lawsuits.

The Cleveland, Ohio, federal court is now tasked with handling more than 300 lawsuits filed by cities, counties and states that contend the manufacturers and distributors of the drugs let an addictive drug loose on the public without adequately warning doctors or patients of the dangers of addiction. They also charge that they did nothing to stop the rising tide of addiction even after it became apparent that there was a problem.

While lawsuits against drug companies aren't particularly new, the fact that whole cities and states are filing suit, asking for compensation to help them deal with the devastating financial cost to their communities as they try to cope with the problems is unusual.

If you or a close relative has been a victim of opioid addiction that could have been prevented with better safeguards and more information, consider exploring your legal options.

Source: The Guardian, "America's opioid crisis: how prescription drugs sparked a national trauma," Joanna Walters, accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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