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Prosecuting Doctors and Pharmaceutical Companies for the Opioid Crisis

May 4th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Friday, May 4, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, LA. If you have lost a loved one due to opioid overdose, or if a family member has struggled with opioid addiction, you know how personally injurious and how truly damaging opioid addiction can be. Opioid addiction can impact a person’s ability to work, can require intensive rehabilitation treatment, and can destroy families. It can be very difficult to sue a doctor or pharmaceutical company for a loved one’s injuries for opioid addiction. But, according to the New York Times, prosecutors are trying to find ways to hold pharmaceutical companies and doctors accountable for the most egregious violations. If prosecutors are successful, individuals affected by these doctors or companies may someday have a viable avenue to pursue a lawsuit.




While a large number of the people who die from opioid overdose get their drugs on the street, experts believe that the overprescribing of these drugs has certainly contributed to the crisis. Fentanyl is the substance that is found in the street drugs that are killing patients. It is also found in the prescription drugs used to treat breakthrough cancer pain. Strong opioid painkillers can be lifesaving for cancer patients who suffer from breakthrough cancer pain. This kind of pain flares up even when a cancer patient is already on around the clock painkillers. This kind of pain can be debilitating and can impact a person’s quality of life. For this reason, opioid painkillers remain appropriate prescriptions, in some cases.

However, investigators are finding that doctors would prescribe these very strong opioids, ones containing fentanyl, to patients who did not have chronic cancer. Investigators believe that manufacturers found a significant loophole in the law. While drug manufacturers are not permitted to market drugs for off-label use, doctors can prescribe drugs off label when they deem it appropriate. Investigators believe that drug companies may have been giving some doctors kickbacks for prescribing these strong opioids for off-label use. In some cases, even dentists may have been recruited to prescribe these strong and potentially dangerously addictive drugs.

One person who spoke to investigators spoke about how his life changed after he had been prescribed the drug. He lost his home to foreclosure and struggled with addiction. The patient’s story was tragic, but thanks to whistleblowers who were working for the pharmaceutical company, the company’s wrongdoing is slowly being exposed.

So, what can you do if you or a loved one has suffered as a result of prescription opioids, especially if you were prescribed drugs designed for cancer patients? You may have rights under the law. Doctors charged with receiving kickbacks might also be liable for lawsuits for damages. The The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are medical malpractice lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana who may be able to help you and your family. Prescription drug errors can sometimes result in lawsuits, but negligent prescribing when a doctor received money to prescribe a patient off-label may be another avenue. Visit our Firm at to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation
1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112
Phone: (504) 586-5200
Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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