The opioid crisis has been in effect for years, but it’s receiving much less attention these days. It’s an ironic twist that prescription medication is being peddled to help those addicted to prescription medication.
As of 2017, there were 2.3 million people addicted to opioids in the United States with 47,000 deaths as a result. The same industry that created opioid addiction has been looking for ways to sell a cure – in the form of an opioid called buprenorphine. Buprenorphine has been used to curb the cravings associated with opioids that keep addicts coming back without giving them the high they continuously chase.
Buprenorphine comes in pill form, dissolvable film, and now in a long-term injectable under the name Sublocade. Commercials have been peppered all over television for months touting Sublocade as being the next great cure. Indivior, the maker of Sublocade, recently lost a lawsuit attempting to block the sale of another buprenorphine drug (Brixadi) from being sold until 2024. That drug has received approval to begin marketing later this year.
Getting access to buprenorphine treatments is incredibly hard
Whether either of these drugs will have the intended impact remains to be seen. However, the question isn’t about effectiveness, but rather access. Less than 10% of doctors in the country have permission to provide buprenorphine treatments, per a new study. As of 2017, only 17 doctors per 100,000 people received waivers to prescribe the drug. During the study period, opioid-related deaths increased by almost 300% per year.
The fact that buprenorphine can only be prescribed by a limited number of doctors who are authorized to treat a limited number of patients raises the question of whether the federal government is propelling addiction and unnecessarily causing deaths rather than preventing them. To make matters worse, the study has determined that of the medical practitioners who have been granted special permission to dispense the drug, the majority practice in more educated counties. This trend leaves poorer, rural counties with high rates of opioid overdoes cases without the necessary access to prevent opioid-related deaths.
The use of prescription medicine should improve your overall health rather than put you at risk for an unintended overdose or even death. If you’ve been harmed by the use of prescription opioids, the people responsible (whether the drug manufacturer or the prescribing physician) should be held accountable for the damage they’ve inflicted on your life.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an opioid overdose or death due to the negligence of a physician, let Harris Lowry Manton LLP help you seek the compensation that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys, call our Savannah office at 912-651-9967, our Atlanta office at 404-961-7650, or reach out to us through our contact page today to tell us your story.