Prescription painkillers are the deadliest drugs prescribed in the U.S, researchers find

by Eric Pearson

Statistics released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have revealed that prescription painkillers are among the deadliest drugs used by patients in the U.S. According to the agency, prescription painkillers account for four out of the six medications that were linked to the highest number of drug deaths between 1998 and 2005.

Known as opioid painkillers, prescription pain medications are prescribed to patients with moderate to severe pain. These drugs can be administered in the form of a pill, liquid, or even an injection.

The most deadly drug in the period covered by the FDA statistics was oxycodone. Oxycodone is a potent medication that is also prescribed under several brand names, including OxyContin and Percocet. Oxycodone is more powerful than morphine, making it an extremely dangerous medication that can cause an overdose if not used properly.

Fentanyl is another extremely powerful opioid that it prescribed in the form of a patch, either generically or under the brand name Duragesic. Researchers have found that fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine, making it one of the strongest and most deadly pain drugs in existence. Although it is only supposed to be prescribed to patients with severe, long-term pain (such as cancer patients), the extreme potency of fentanyl and Duragesic and their over-use by prescribing doctors, have made these products the second leading cause of drug deaths in the U.S.

Although less potent than oxycodone and fentanyl, morphine overdoses are the fourth leading caused of pharmaceutical deaths in the U.S. In addition to being administered as an injection, morphine can be prescribed in tablet form under the brand names MS Contin and Oramorph SR, or in capsule form under the names Avinza or Kadian

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of prescription painkiller deaths in the U.S. are caused by the use of the drug methadone. Because the drug has been used more frequently to treat patients with serious pain in recent years, deaths from methadone have risen by 600% over the last decade, according to the CDC.

When patients are prescribed excessive amounts of painkillers by their doctor, or when they are kept on these drugs after pain has subsided, individuals who take opioids to manage pain may be at risk of an overdose. Unless they are treated by a physician, these patients may lapse into respiratory arrest or respiratory depression, which may be fatal.

If you or a loved one were prescribed opioid painkillers such as these and suffered an overdose or other side effects, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are the nationwide leaders in trying lawsuits involving prescription opioid painkillers, and will work with you to seek the results that you deserve.

For a free legal consultation from an attorney about your case, contact our law firm by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free consultation form on this website.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.