When you think about medication errors, you might assume that this means being given the wrong pill or the wrong dosage. But, have you ever thought about how some physicians might overprescribe addictive drugs like opioids? Recent data that was released from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shows what a huge problem this is in the United States.
The DEA maintains a database that tracks pain pills sold in this country. It goes from manufacturers to distributors to pharmacies and tracks by cities and towns. Taking a look into the information contained in this single source paints a deadly picture. From 2006 through 2012, there were 76 billion hydrocodone and oxycodone pills sold in this country. During that time, there were 100,000 opioid-related deaths.
Only three manufacturers accounted for a total of 88% of those pills. Approximately 75% of those pills were distributed by six companies. While this might be shocking, you have to look at the role that prescribers had in this epidemic. From 2006 to 2012, there was an uptick in pills handed out at around 51%. Approximately 8.4 billion opioid pain pills were distributed in 2006. That number rose to 12.6 billion in 2012.
Drug companies have been quick to pass the blame. They note that overprescribing doctors and addicted customers are the ones who should be held responsible for the epidemic. There seems to be enough blame to go around, which can make it challenging for those who are harmed by these drugs to determine where to turn.
Victims of the overprescription of opioids might have legal actions to pursue. When there is physical harm from the situation, they might choose to seek compensation to help them cover the costs of that harm. Determining the liable parties is one step in this process.