Opioid Malpractice Lawsuits On The Rise As Patients-Turned-Addicts & The Feds’ Haul Doctors Who Over-Prescribe Into Court
Opioid over-prescription is a serious problem throughout the U.S. Primary doctors often prescribe pain pills for simple back pain. However, some have tied pain heavy-duty pills, patches, and sprays to the heroin epidemic. Doctors are supposed to use reasonable care to act as other doctors in the same specialty would act under the same circumstances, and they must abide by a professional standard of care.
When doctors overprescribe medication they can held liable for professional malpractice and sued just like any other negligent defendant out there that causes an injury.
Pharm Execs Bribed the Doctors to Over-Prescribe
The opioid manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has agreed to pay some $225 million to end criminal and civil investigations into allegations that it used a system of bribes to get doctors to illegally prescribe its highly addictive product, federal officials announced Wednesday.
As part of the resolution, the company will plead guilty to five counts of mail fraud, admitting that a speaker program it used to increase its brand awareness was actually a “vehicle to pay bribes and kickbacks to targeted practitioners,” who were willing to increase prescriptions for Subsys, the company’s powerful fentanyl spray, according to a news release from the Justice Department.
The spray had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating the severe pain of terminal cancer patients. But the company came up with ways to get doctors to write prescriptions for patients who didn’t need the drug, prosecutors have charged.
The release noted the story of a physician assistant who worked at a pain clinic in New Hampshire. The PA, who was not named, joined Insys’s program the second year the drug was on the market — he hadn’t written a prescription the first year it was — and wrote 672 prescriptions for Subsys, for which he received $44,000 in kickbacks, the release said.
INSYS said in a statement that the settlements were in the company’s best interest, adding that by complying the Office of Inspector General “will not seek to exclude INSYS Therapeutics from key healthcare programs.”
Last month, five former Insys executives, including the company’s founder, John Kapoor, were convicted of racketeering conspiracy related to the marketing of Subsys after a trial in federal court in Boston.
Harm Caused by Opioid Over-Prescriptions
Opioid addiction has been a massive problem for too long. There have been more than 165,000 deaths related to opioid addiction since 1999, and there have been 19,000 deaths due to opioid overdoses. Some experts link this addiction problem to over-prescriptions by doctors. Doctors’ prescriptions for such drugs as Vicodin and Oxycontin sometimes far exceed the federal guidelines in place to avoid patient addiction and related problems.
Recently, two plaintiffs won a medical malpractice trial against a doctor and a university hospital. The trial turned on the opioid abuse epidemic. In the case, the defendant doctor and hospital had prescribed a 45-year-old city parks employee who worked in mechanical maintenance more than 37,000 pain pills between 2008 and 2012, in an amount much higher than what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The worker went to see his primary care doctor for back pain, and he was put on a dose of opioids that kept increasing. Between 2008 and 2012, he went from 49 mg of opioid medications equivalent to morphine to 1,555 mg per day. This is a massive increase, particularly since CDC guidelines require that no more than an average daily dose of 100 mg of a morphine-equivalent opioid be given. An expert for the plaintiffs stated that these doses were reckless and colossal.
At one point, the worker took Oxycontin, Vicodin, and oxycodone, and after getting addicted, he had to go to a drug rehab center. His relationships with his wife and children were adversely affected by the side effects of pain pills, including depression, and eventually his wife and he started divorce proceedings.
The jury found for the plaintiff, awarding him $1.4 million and awarding his wife $1.2 million. The jury also awarded $15 million in punitive damages, an amount designed to punish the defendants and deter future similar conduct.
Call The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. today for a free confidential consultation. A delay in investigation could adversely affect your claim.
In order to recover compensation for medical malpractice related to an opioid over-prescription, you will need to show that your doctor deviated from the professional standard of care.
Generally, this means that you will need to retain an expert in the same field as your doctor, and the expert will need to determine what the professional standard of care is and whether the doctor failed to meet it in how they prescribed opioids, as well as whether that failure to meet the standard of care caused the harm that you suffered.
Since 1976, The Matassini Law Firm. P.A. has been seeking justice throughout Florida for victims of medical malpractice and personal injuries.