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Physicians, researchers, drug manufacturers, and other parties in the healthcare industry have known for years that opioid painkillers are highly addictive and often lead to dependency. Opioids are so strong that individuals who are addicted to heroin can switch to various prescription opioids and vice versa. Nonetheless, major pharmaceutical companies continue to manufacture opioids as pain treatments, and physicians keep prescribing them due to their high profitability. If you or a loved one has suffered from opioids, an Alabama medical malpractice lawyer can help. Call Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. today at (205) 933-1500 for a free case consultation.
OxyContin is a perfect example of how pharmaceutical companies make a great deal of money on their opioid products. OxyContin has been heavily marketed and prescribed since launching in 1996.
The drug first became popular because it was advertised as 12-hour pain relief, which was a far longer period of time than previous painkillers. However, the drug continuously falls short of that claim. Patients and doctors have known for decades that OxyContin does not help many patients for a full 12 hours.
In response to complaints, Purdue, the drug manufacturer of OxyContin, encouraged physicians to prescribe stronger doses. This ensured physicians kept using their drug, but it also increased the likelihood of addiction, overdoses, and death. From the drug’s initial release in 1996, Purdue has made approximately $35 billion from OxyContin.
While taking high doses of OxyContin, a patient is much more likely to become dependent and ask for the drug long after they should have been weaned off of it. This is partly because prior to the 12-hour mark when they can take the next pill, the OxyContin starts to wear off. This causes the patient to feel withdrawal symptoms. These pains are then replaced by a high when patients take the next dose. It is a cycle researchers say leads to addiction, and addiction is profitable to drug makers when it means more prescriptions.
While new drugs enter the market consistently, it is difficult to see the years of research and millions of dollars it takes to formulate these new drugs, conduct the necessary testing, and receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While pharmaceutical companies may be interested in creating new and profitable drugs, there is hardly any incentive to spend the time and money on creating replacements for drugs that are already highly profitable.
Opioid addiction is not always what people think. It is not simply someone who is irresponsible or has previous mental health issues. In the current healthcare industry, opioids are routinely prescribed, and anyone can fall into the trap of opioid dependence.
If you have been harmed because of prescription opioids, consider your legal rights. It is clear that the risks of these drugs outweigh the potential benefits, and many individuals are choosing to hold big pharma responsible.
To discuss your rights and legal options after being harmed by prescription opioids, contact an Alabama medical malpractice lawyer at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. at (205) 933-1500 to schedule a free case consultation. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our malpractice attorneys will travel to the location most convenient to you.