The U.S. opioid “crisis” and how it may be coming to the U.K.


In 1995, U.S. regulators approved a new drug called OxyContin; a highly effective opioid manufactured by Purdue Pharma. The oxycodone hydrochloride controlled-release painkiller was hailed as a wonder drug for many aches and pains, and drug manufactures have made an absolute fortune selling this drug as part of a $400 billion-a-year industry.

However, the manufactures stand accused of serious wrongdoing that helped them cement their success, namely: deceptive advertising; and excessively aggressive marketing.

That’s what the law firms suing these giant drug companies allege is happening.

Big lawsuits launched

Multiple lawsuits are being brought against these huge drug corporations over allegations they’re employing dirty tactics to increase profits at the expense of consumers’ health and money.

The claimants say the drug companies are essentially deceiving people as one lawyer acting for multiple counties in New York says:

“You don’t get to this point without fake marketing. They promote this ultimately phony science… There is zero science to support it. They just made it up!”

The lawsuit is being brought against five mammoth drug companies:

  • Purdue Pharma
  • Johnson and Johnson’s Jansen Pharmaceuticals Inc
  • Endo International Plc
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd
  • Allergan Plc

Risks of addiction reportedly downplayed and allegations of aggressive marketing

The lawsuit is reportedly being brought over unnecessary state and consumer spending on opioids surrounding allegations of deception over the addiction risks, combined with what claimants say is aggressive marketing techniques.

The companies stand accused of massively downplaying how easy it is to get addicted to the opioids they produce. Even Ohio State’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, is suing the companies, blaming them for fuelling the country’s addiction to opioids, and helping to “unleash a healthcare crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the state of Ohio”.

The lawsuit suggests that just five years ago:

“…the total number of opioid doses prescribed to Ohio patients soared to 793 [million] – enough to supply every man woman and child in the state with 68 pills each.”

The numbers are absolutely staggering, and the reported effect on public health is a major concern.

Allegations of aggressive sales and marketing techniques

In the U.S., it’s normal for pharmaceutical companies so send out their salesmen to pitch their products to hospitals and distributors to advertise the benefits of their drug, with a view to sell as many as they can. However, it’s alleged that these companies are far too aggressive in their pitches, targeting physicians who know too little about opioids, and presenting information that allegedly overlooks just how addictive the drugs can be.

The packaging on the labelling provides warnings that are allegedly a contradiction to what is asserted in its marketing: “you can give a great warning but undercut it, and that can go to the fraud point”, says a U.S. law professor.

Not the first time this issue has been raised before…

The issue has been raised before; around 10 years ago when Purdue was found guilty of misbranding their drug OxyContin as less addictive than it really was. Purdue paid out $600 million (£465 million), but the fine was probably peanuts to them, and evidently may not have changed a thing if these new claims are upheld.

How does this affect the U.K.?

The use of painkillers – prescription and over the counter – has reportedly increased substantially here in the U.K. over the last few years. Some say there is an epidemic of overusing medication, and doctors are being accused over-prescribing medication too.

This can be said for opioid-based drugs as well, so the U.K. may be risking a similar problem. Given how addictive opioids can be, this is a potential epidemic waiting to happen, and we all need to watch out for it.

The content of this post/page was considered accurate at the time of the original posting and/or at the time of any posted revision. The content of this page may, therefore, be out of date. The information contained within this page does not constitute legal advice. Any reliance you place on the information contained within this page is done so at your own risk.

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