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Medical malpractice and painkiller prescriptions

The growing number of lawsuits generated by the opioid epidemic are clear evidence that the problem is out of control. Recently, a number of these lawsuits have included prominent pain doctors. These doctors helped expand the use of addictive opioids in the treatment of pain. In some cases, they profited directly or indirectly from the makers of these dangerous drugs, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions and Allergan.

Pain management is an important part of medical care. It is necessary for the treatment of many conditions. In some cases, doctors are placed in a difficult situation when a client with real pain management problems also demonstrates a vulnerability to addiction. While there are gray areas, there are also cases where doctors violate the standard of care and dole out prescriptions that do more harm than good.

An industry-wide problem

Most patients likely assume, or at least hope, that their doctors are recommending treatments based on how effective they will be. There is evidence that this is often not the case. Drug companies spend a substantial amount of time and money in various efforts to encourage doctors to recommend their products. This influence can sway countless decisions and lead to prescriptions that are useless or even actively harmful.

Product liability

When it comes to opioid painkillers, responsibility can lie with the pharmaceutical company, the prescribing doctor and the patient. The drug makers can be held accountable in product liability suits for misleading people about the effectiveness and risks of their wares. If a drug is mislabeled, or if manufacturers withhold information about the potential dangers, the victims should hold them accountable.

The case is often murkier for holding doctors accountable. In many cases there are arguments for and against giving a particular drug to a patient. Given the size of the opioid addiction problem, however, more doctors need to pay attention to who is receiving these drugs and under what circumstances.

Source: Yahoo Finance, "Nation's top pain doctors face scores of opioid lawsuits," by Roger Parloff, 3 April 2018

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