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Overview of Opioid Use and Abuse

Staff Writer3 years ago

A recent decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requiring stricter labels for opioid painkillers and more indepth studies into the risks the drugs may carry has drawn a lot of media attention. With this in mind, it is important to understand the role of the drugs affected by these new regulations, and why the FDA has become so concerned.

What are Opioids?

  • Opioids are drugs designed to mimic the body’s own natural pain-relieving mechanisms.
  • By binding to optioid receptors in your brain, spinal cord and other parts of your body, opioids are able to quell the messages your body sends your brain to release painful responses.
  • Over the counter drugs such as apsrin or ibuprofen is normally enough to treat minor pain caused by muscle aches or headaches; however, for people in severe accidents or who underwent surgery, the pain may be much more extreme and almost unbearable.
  • In these situations, the benefits of an opioid, prescribed by a doctor, can make all the difference.
  • Well known examples of prescription opioids include:

    • Oxycontin
    • Percocet
    • Vicodin
    • Morphine

Dangers of Opioids

  • When speaking to a doctor about an opioid prescription, patients are likely to hear about minor side effects including nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. It is also what goes undiscussed, however, that has drawn concern from the FDA.
  • The FDA is now looking to better regulate opioids due to a tendency for abuse.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of deaths caused by opioid overdose have increase by 300% since 1999.
  • Women have been affected the most with overdoses among women increasing by over 400% in the same amount of time.
Opioid Use During Pregnancy
  • The FDA is also requiring a black box warning label on opioid pain relievers which detail the risks opioid may pose unborn children.
  • Research suggests that taking opioids during pregnancy increases the risks of birth defects by up to 3 times.
  • Use of opioids during pregnancy can also lead to Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome which may result in low birth weight  and death.
Contact an Experienced Product Liability Attorney

Thomas J. Henry are leaders in the area of drug and product liability litigation. Our Defective Drug and Products Division have extensive knowledge and resources in order to represent our clients efficiently and aggressively. The Defective Drug and Products Division represent a multitude of people who are battling against manufacturers of medical devices and/ or defective pharmaceuticals.

If you or a loved one have been injured by or have developed serious side-effects from the use of defective medications or pharmaceuticals, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. We represent clients/victims all over the country. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends.


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