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Making a Dent in Oregon’s Opioid Epidemic

By Marc A. Johnston, posted in Medical Malpractice on February 20, 2018

Issues related to addiction involving prescription pain pills and opioid use have garnered broad national attention amidst skyrocketing reports of fatal overdoses. Malpractice claims concerning medical mistakes and drug negligence have become more common, as families struggle to come to grips with the impacts these prescribed medications have on their loved ones. There is a movement gaining steam to hold medical providers and pharmaceutical companies accountable, while new laws being proposed in Oregon hope to provide more effective regulation.

Oregon’s Opioid Epidemic

Beginning in late January 2019, the Portland Business Journal ran a series of articles concerning Oregon’s opioid epidemic and what is being done to address the situation. While in general, the tide of opioid prescriptions has decreased since reaching a high of nearly 1.5 million in late 2015, more efforts are needed to stem the number of opioid-related deaths that currently plague the state. Overall, the report claims that Oregon has one of the highest rates of opioid abuse in the nation, with roughly three people dying as the result of overdoses each week.

In response to the epidemic, the State of Oregon has an Opioid Task Force dedicated to counter dependency and abuse. It is comprised of a team of doctors, drug treatment specialists, and government officials, with the goal of educating the general public, providing better access to treatment, and limiting the number of these drugs in circulation. While law enforcement focuses their efforts on illegal narcotic distributions and use, state legislators have created a bill to help create more accountability among doctors who prescribe these medications.

Holding the Medical Community and Drug Companies Responsible

In February, 2018 the Statesman’s Journal reported that an opioid bill sponsored by Oregon’s governor has received broad support in the first steps to having it legislated into law. The bill outlines three specific steps to counter the opioid epidemic in the state:

  1. Study barriers that prevent those addicted from gaining access to treatment;
  2. Create peer recovery groups in four counties, including Multnomah;
  3. Require medical practitioners to register in a prescription drug monitoring program.

The fact that these medications are prescribed among physicians with little oversight or interaction with other providers enables those who do become addicted to get opioids from multiple sources, and is a major part of the problem. As studies draw attention to the strength of these drugs and their highly addictive qualities, blame is shifting from the victims to doctors and the drug makers in general. When pharmaceutical companies flood the market with dangerous drugs and doctors recklessly provide prescriptions, you may be able to hold them accountable for the tragic and devastating circumstances that occur as a result.

How We Can Help

If you suspect a doctor has been negligent in providing opioid medications, or you have a loved one who has become addicted and overdosed as a result, reach out to the Johnston Law Firm for help. We can arrange a free consultation with our Portland medical negligence attorney, to discuss your case and whether you might be entitled to compensation through a claim against the medical provider or the drug manufacturer.

Marc Johnston
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