Opioids Lawsuit

  • Product Information: Oxycontin
  • Manufacturer: Purdue Pharma
  • Active Ingredient(s): Oxycodone is white crystalline powder derived from thebaine – an opium alkaloid.
  • Labeled Indications: (1) Management of severe pain with round-the-clock monitoring. (2) Long-term opioid treatment for which alternative options are not available for opioid-tolerant adults and pediatric patients above 11 years of age.
  • Recent Settlements: $270 million out-of-court settlement in March 2019 in Oklahoma and $24 million pre-trial settlement in December 2019 in Kentucky.
  • Who Can File a Lawsuit: Individuals who have taken oxycontin and experienced severe side effects.

Oxycontin is contraindicated in individuals who have a history of drug addiction, misuse, or abuse problems. The drug is also contraindicated in pregnant women due to the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal symptoms. Usage of the drug is contraindicated in patients who take benzodiazepines, alcohol, or another central nervous system (CNS) depressant due to the risk of respiratory depression, sedation, coma, and death.

Oxycontin - Drug Description

The chemical formula of Oxycontin is C18H21NO4HCL. The chemical name of the drug is 4, 5α-epoxy-14-hydroxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-one hydrochlorides. The molar weight of the medication is 351.83. The onset of action of the medication is 10 to 30 minutes and up to an hour for controlled release. Oxycontin is available in the form of 10 milligrams, 20 milligrams, 30 milligrams, 40 milligrams, 60 milligrams, and 80 milligrams tablets. Inactive ingredients of the medication include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), polyethylene glycol 400, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, polyethylene oxide, titanium dioxide, hydroxypropyl cellulose, iron oxide, and hydroxypropyl cellulose.

Oxycontin is a drug manufactured by a Connecticut based pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, LP. The company was initially established in the 1890s in New York as Purdue Frederick Company. Later, in 1952 Purdue was bought by three pharmacists Raymond Sackler, Mortimer, and Arthur.

Purdue was incorporated in the year 1991, focusing on the manufacture of pain relief medications. The company was regarded as a pioneer in the development of pain relief medications and employed over 1,700 individuals in 2015.

In 1995, the FDA had approved the use of Oxycontin for pain relief. The medication was officially launched in 1996 and quickly became the most prescribed opioid pain killer.

By 2001, Oxycontin was generating billions of dollars in profits for the company. Experts estimate that the company made over $36 billion from the sale of the medication.

However, the popularity of the drug also increased the concern about addiction and overdoses. The controlled release medication was initially thought to be less addictive. But it was later found that crushing, chewing, or dissolving the medication allowed patients to bypass the time-release giving them a powerful dose of the opioid medication.

How Opioid Medications Work?

Opioid medications attach to opioid receptors that are found in different parts of the body. The receptors are found in the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and spinal cord. The active ingredient in opioid medications attaches to the opioid receptors that reduce the exchange of pain messages between the pain site and the brain. This helps in pain relief for the patients.

Doctors prescribe opioid medications for severe pain that cannot be controlled using other medications. These medications only suppress the pain without treating the underlying condition that contributes to the pain.

Approved Uses of Oxycontin

Oxycontin was first approved by the FDA in 1995 for the treatment of severe and chronic pain. The drug is approved for use by both adults and children over 11 years of age. However, a strict limit is placed on the use of opioid pain relief medication among children. Doctors can only prescribe the medication if the children had previously displayed no contradiction with another opioid medication. Moreover, they must display tolerance with at least 20 mg of Oxycodone before an equivalent dose of Oxycontin can be prescribed.

Oxycontin Link with Opioid Addiction

Oxycontin is a highly addictive opioid medication. According to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2009, the availability of Oxycontin correlated with increased abuse and addiction to opioid medications. The authors revealed that the medication was the leading medication abused in the US. The addiction of the opioid drug was fueled in part due to the aggressive proportional campaign by Purdue that included influencing physicians’ prescription of the medication.

Opioid addiction has become an epidemic in the US today. Between 1990 and 2017, nearly 218,000 deaths have occurred due to opioid addiction. In 2016 alone, there were over 42,000 deaths related to opioid overdoses.

Pharmaceutical companies assured that the government and the medical community that their opioid medications were safe. This influenced health care providers prescribing Opioid medications in great numbers. In 2017, doctors had made over 190 million prescriptions of opioid drugs.

Increased influx of opioid medications in the market correlated to widespread abuse of the drugs. This led the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare opioid addiction a public health emergency.

According to a World Bank report, the average life expectancy in the US had fallen from 78.8 years in 2014 to 78.5 years in 2017. This represents the longest sustained decrease in life expectancy in the country since the First World War (1915-1918).

Purdue Pharma earned billions of dollars due to the prescription of opioid medication Oxycontin. The company continued to invest millions of dollars in aggressively promoting its opioid drug. In 2003, the FDA issued a warning to Purdue for making misleading advertisements related to Oxycontin.

The company pleaded guilty to federal charges brought in 2007 and agreed to make payment of $600 million in penalties and fines. As part of the settlement, Purdue had acknowledged its role in defrauding and misleading the public when it made statements that Oxycontin was less addictive and susceptible to abuse as compared to other painkillers.

History of Oxycontin Lawsuits

Purdue Pharma was found to have hidden relationships with AEI and SATEL that shows how the company aggressively used the public relations campaign to promote opioid drug sales. The company had spent millions of dollars in funds to influence media commentary about the medication.

PR tactics of Purdue were similar to the ones used by the oil and gas companies in misleading the public about climate change problems. The tactics are also not unlike the one taken by big tobacco companies that invested in PR campaigns to undermine evidence against tobacco smoke and nicotine addiction.

Apart from influencing the media, Purdue was also alleged to fund think tanks and advocates of pain relief such as the American Pain Foundation. Many of the groups funded by Purdue Pharma fought against legislation that limits opioid use.

As of 2019, nearly 2700 lawsuits have been filed against unethical practices of Purdue Pharma in promoting Oxycontin opioid drugs. The lawsuits assert that the company did not warn patients and doctors about the danger of addiction. These lawsuits also name the Sackler family who owns major shares in the pharmaceutical company.

The lawsuits filed against Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family in the management position claim that the company’s tactics had contributed to an opioid health crisis. The company is alleged to have aggressively promoted its opioid medication and downplayed the risks. According to the lawsuits, Purdue has played a major role in the opioid epidemic that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the past two decades.

Lawsuits brought against Purdue Pharma alleging that the Slacker family members were paid over $4 billion between the years 2007 and 2018. Most of the wealth is alleged to be held outside the country, complicating the lawsuits against the family.

Several states including Oklahoma, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Cleveland, Utah, and Rhode Island had filed a lawsuit against the Slacker family members and Purdue Pharma.

A court filing by the NY Attorney General Office contends that the Slacker family had used Swiss and other accounts to transfer billions of dollars to their accounts. This discovery of the wealth transfer bolsters the claims that Slacker family members shielded the wealth due to increasing threats against Purdue for contributing to the opioid epidemic. The lawsuit alleges that they had promoted Oxycontin as a low addiction risk despite contrary findings.

The lawsuit filed by an attorney in Massachusetts found that the company had aggressively promoted the opioid drug from the start. They persuaded doctors to prescribe the medication despite research that found Oxycodone painkillers were addictive and dangerous.

The lawsuits filed in Massachusetts also showed that the Slacker family continued to aggressively market the drug even after Purdue was found guilty of misrepresenting the addictive properties of the opioid drug in 2009.

Lawsuits allege that Purdue violated the Controlled Substances Act. The company was alleged to have violated the federal provisions by exaggerating the benefits of the drug. The company knew about the risk of the drug but did not warn the public about the addictive nature of the medication. The lawsuits allege that the company had profited from the lack of awareness of the dangers that led to increased prescription of the medication.

The lawsuits against Purdue had also argued that the company had lobbied medical professionals and politicians to promote the use of opioid medication. The company was alleged to have influenced the media and medical experts in promoting that the drug was safe for pain relief.

The Outcome of Oxycontin Lawsuits

Purdue management and members of the Slacker family had denied any wrongdoings in promoting oxycontin. They contended that during the peak of the opioid epidemic between 2013 and 2016, Purdue had manufactured only 4 percent of the painkiller medications prescribed in the US.

In March 2019, the company had agreed to pay nearly $270 million to Oklahoma as an out-of-court settlement. The settlement was made to avoid facing trial charges of illegal marketing practices.2

Moreover, Purdue Pharma had also agreed to pay $24 million to the Kentucky state as a pre-trial settlement for misleading the medical professionals and patients about the addictive properties of prescription opioid medication.

In September 2019, the board of directors at Purdue had agreed to a settlement with 24 state attorneys who had filed opioid lawsuits against the company. The company agreed to settle more than 2,000 class-action opioid lawsuits in different municipalities for downplaying the risks of oxycontin that sustained the opioid crisis.

As part of the settlement, the Slacker family will relinquish ownership of the company. Purdue will be allowed to sell the controversial drug Oxycontin and other drugs and profits will be used to make payments to plaintiffs and fund addiction treatment programs.

After the settlement, Purdue Pharma had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Slacker family and Purdue Pharma had also agreed to make cash payments of billions of dollars over several years.

Aftermath of Oxycontin Lawsuits

Court battles against Purdue Pharma are far from over. The company still faces 35 state lawsuits and a federal opioid crisis lawsuit in Cleveland that involve thousands of plaintiffs. The lawsuits claim compensation for damages due to withholding information about the addictive properties of oxycontin.

Many attorneys in different states have opposed the settlement and continue to seek additional compensation for damages from the Slacker family and the company.

Purdue’s opioid medication represents only a slice of the opioid crisis lawsuits. Lawsuits have been filed against many other opioid drug manufacturers and distributors. Thousands of private individuals and states are suing retail and wholesale opioid drug manufacturers for the damage due to the abuse of opioid drugs.

The prevalence of opioid drugs has taken a toll on the lives of drug addicts and family members. The annual cost of dealing with the epidemic for the government runs into billions of dollars. The costs related to treatment facilities, public healthcare, criminal justice, and law enforcement expenses.

Who Can File a Claim for Oxycontin Lawsuit?

After thousands of deaths related to oxycontin, the fact is FDA has not ordered the recall of the opioid medication. This means that many people can become victims of opioid medication.

If you or your loved one has suffered financially or emotionally due to addiction to oxycontin, you can contact an injury lawyer to inquire about seeking compensation against the company. You may be entitled to compensation if you were not part of the 2019 oxycontin settlement.

The awards from the opioid lawsuit settlement will allow you to seek compensation for the following damages due to addiction to oxycontin.

Medical bills

You can seek compensation for medical bills incurred in the treatment of the addiction problem. By filing a personal injury opioid lawsuit, you can get compensation for doctor’s fees, diagnostic charges, medications, and other related costs for rehabilitation due to addiction to oxycontin.

Loss of Earnings

Filing an opioid lawsuit will also allow you to seek compensation for the loss of earnings due to the addiction problem. You can sue the pharmaceutical company for getting compensation for lost wages resulting from the addiction.

Emotional Pain and Suffering

State laws allow you to also seek compensation for emotional pain and suffering due to the addiction problem. The fact is drug addiction can be a cause of a great deal of anxiety and stress. Addiction to drugs can easily ruin family lives. You can seek compensation for the psychological suffering due to abuse of the opioid medication.

Wrongful Death Compensation

In case your loved one had died due to addiction to oxycontin, you may be eligible to file a class-action lawsuit for damages due to the death of the victim. A lawyer will try to help you get compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical costs before the death of the victim, and loss of income due to the passing away of the close family member.

You may also be eligible to seek compensation for the loss of consortium or companionship due to the death of the victim.

How Long Do I Have To File an Oxycontin Lawsuit?

The Statute of Limitations will vary from state to state, however, we encourage you to contact our experienced injury attorneys for guidance and to assist you with filing a class action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Filing the case within the specified time is important, or else you will likely be barred from seeking compensation for damages from the company. Consider taking action as soon as possible.

Hire a Personal injury Lawyer to File an Oxycontin Personal injury Lawsuit

Frankl & Kominsky attorneys have decades of combined experience in fighting accident and injury lawsuits. You should contact our attorneys if you or your close family member has become addicted or died after using oxycontin opioid medication. We offer a contingency based fee to our clients. This means that you won’t have to pay us anything unless the case outcome is in your favor.

Our attorneys strive to help you recover past and future lost wages, medical bills and special damages due to opioid drug addiction. We will also try to help determine the compensation that adequately compensates for the losses due to opioid drug addiction. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

  1. NY Finds $1B in Hidden Transfers by Family Behind OxyContin
  2. Purdue Pharma and Sacklers Reach $270 Million Settlement in Opioid Lawsuit
  3. Kentucky Settles Lawsuit with OxyContin Maker for $24 million
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