Opioid Addiction Crisis
News article published on: 28th August 2019
In the first trial of this kind to take place in USA, the Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson have been ordered by an Oklahoma Judge to pay a staggering $572 m (£469 m) because of the opioid deaths in USA.
It is reported that; ‘We showed how the company repeatedly ignored warnings by the federal governments and its own scientific advisers about the dangers of its drugs and the risks of marketing its products the way it did,” said Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter during a press conference on Monday.
The ramifications for other companies is unknown. However, it has been suggested that there are approximately 2,000 similar cases across the USA. Opioid addiction is a crisis with apparently 70,000 people in the USA reported to have died from drug overdoses in 2017.
Drug companies must now take notice and recognise the danger that these drugs can cause and ensure that they market the drugs as they should do. They should ensure that they correctly identify the safety awareness of these drugs and be truthful in respect of the effectiveness of such drugs.
As night follows day here in the UK such risks will also be apparent as patterns of behaviour from USA often follow years later in the UK.
It was reported last year that there were approximately 250,000 opioid addicts in England. This included a 400% rise in oxycodone and fentanyl deaths, equating to 3 deaths a week in 2018. Addiction is something that needs to be addressed, increase in dependence on drugs to reduce pain, anxiety, stress and the daily trappings of everyday life events is made easier due to the availability of opioids.
Drug companies, doctors and patients must all be educated of the serious risks that opioids create. Often the only way lessons can be learned is when deaths occur and lawsuits are successful so that damages are paid out. The easiest way is to reduce the problem that creates the crisis in the first place. It may be that Johnson & Johnson will change their ways, but I also read that they are appealing the judgment. So who knows!
This blog is written by Stephanie Prior, Head of Medical Negligence, Osbornes Law