Opioid abuse is an enormous problem in North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as around the country. Millions abuse prescription opioids, many of which are prescribed for pain relief. A significant percentage die from opioid overdoses. In 2016 alone, the Department of Health and Environmental Control found that opioids had killed 616 people in South Carolina. For years, pharmaceutical companies failed to provide a sufficient sense of how addictive opioids are, and this created a situation in which patients and others became addicted and overdosed. Cities and counties around the country have been hit with the costs of the opioid crisis. At Grimes Teich Anderson, our North Carolina and South Carolina opioid injury lawyers can help you explore your legal options if you were harmed by a drug manufacturer’s failure to warn you about the risks and side effects of these drugs.Opioid Lawsuits
Opioids are painkillers, and they include both prescription drugs and heroin. Prescription opioids include hydrocodone (known as Vicodin), oxycodone (known as Oxycontin), morphine, codeine, and fentanyl. They interact with nerve cells in the body and brain, and they are often prescribed after a surgery or serious injury or for cancer. It is true that opioids are safe when consumed short-term, but they instill euphoria and are often abused or used long-term in order to treat chronic pain like back pain or osteoarthritis. Side effects of opioids include depression, confusion, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, and vomiting. Regular use can result in dependence, and users may experience withdrawal.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed by an opioid overdose, it may be possible to bring an opioid lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the opioids. Lawsuits being brought in connection with opioids allege that pharmaceutical companies ignored dangers and misled doctors and patients about how risky opioids are. Our North Carolina and South Carolina opioid injury attorneys understand the nuances of these claims.Types of Opioid Painkillers
One of the most prescribed painkillers is morphine. Morphine is derived from the opium plant and is used to treat chronic and acute pain under the brand names Oramorph and MS Contin, among others. It is addictive and is associated with adverse effects, including overdoses.
Hydrocodone or Vicodin is a popularly prescribed opioid that is about as strong as morphine. It should not be used to address pain that can be controlled by medication.
Another commonly prescribed opioid is codeine, which is derived from opium but is 7-14 times less potent than morphine. It is sometimes combined with aspirin or acetaminophen. Codeine carries a risk of difficulty breathing, addiction, and death, and it is not supposed to be given to small kids for those reasons.
Meperidine is a synthetic opioid often prescribed after surgery under the name Demerol. It has a short half-life and includes a mechanism that may cause seizures and tremors in patients with seizures.
Oxycodone is another popularly prescribed medication that was initially just for patients suffering from cancer pain. When combined with acetaminophen, it is called Percocet. However, it is now prescribed to treat back pain, surgical pain, or any chronic or long-lasting pain. People who abuse opioids in order to get a stronger high have crushed its extended-release formulation.
Other types of opioids include methadone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, buprenorphine, carfentanil, fetanyl, and dextromethorphan (found in cough syrups).
Opioid overdose rates are up. Opioids have killed more people in recent years, on a yearly basis, than HIV, car crashes, or guns have killed in a single year. And yet manufacturing companies have tried to persuade doctors to freely prescribe medications without disclosing the extent of the risk of addiction and overdose. Many manufacturers have promoted off label use for the purpose of increasing profits.
Furthermore, opioid use and abuse can result in pregnant women receiving inadequate warnings about the danger of opioids for their babies. Our opioid injury attorneys can help North Carolina and South Carolina residents bring claims when babies are born addicted to opioids, and they suffer from neonatal abstinence syndrome. This can result in complications and difficulties with development and vision impairment.Liability
It may be possible to hold manufacturers liable for a failure to warn about the risks of opioids in North or South Carolina. Each state has its own laws governing product liability lawsuits. In North Carolina, you will need to show negligence in a product liability lawsuit. However, it may also be possible to sue for misrepresentation. The attorney general of North Carolina sued a drug manufacturer in 2018 for false and misleading statements about the opioid that it makes.
In South Carolina, it may be possible to hold opioid manufacturers liable under theories of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. It may also be possible to sue for misrepresentation.Consult a Skilled Product Liability Attorney
If you were injured or a loved one was killed as a result of opioids, you may have a viable claim against a drug manufacturer. The skillful consumer attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson may be able to represent you. We represent people in Gaffney, Spartanburg, Greenville, Spruce Pine, Waynesville, Rutherfordton, Franklin, and Asheville. Contact an opioid injury lawyer in North Carolina or South Carolina at 1-800-533-6845 or via our online form.