Medical Malpractice Lawyer from Cleveland OH
As a medical malpractice attorney, I was shocked to learn how Big Pharm manipulates healthcare in the U.S. Worse yet, doctors are complicit in this corruption. I first saw it with the overprescription of ADHD medications to young children. If physicians and pill manufacturers are willing to victimize children for a dollar, they will victimize anyone for a dollar. This breach of the public trust is once again exposed to the overprescription of painkillers and the resulting drug addiction epidemic sweeping Ohio.
Today’s editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal lays it all out: http://www.ohio.com/editorial/editorials/an-opiate-epidemic-1.482686. One of the most startling statistics is that Ohio doctors handed out “9.6 million doses of opiates and painkillers … in Summit County, enough for about 165 doses per patient.” This flood of drugs was prescribed during the fourth quarter of 2012 alone. That’s over 30 million doses of pain meds each year in Summit County alone.
The evidence connects the abuse of prescription opiates directly to heroin use. I recently read a gut-wrenching story about a teenage girl who was prescribed heavy narcotics for an orthopedic injury. Once addicted and no longer able to afford the costly medicine, she turned to heroin. To support her heroin addiction, she turned to prostitution. Once a promising student, her path to hell was paved by irresponsible prescription of pain medications. This story is now commonplace.
At the heart of this epidemic is a great betrayal of trust. Patients look to doctors for advice about healthcare because doctors have superior knowledge and training. Patients expect the doctor to put the patients’ interests first. Doctors take an oath of loyalty to their patient. But that oath is becoming meaningless for many, many physicians today.
Sadly, there is little hope in sight. Here’s why. Big Pharma sells drugs that are highly profitable. They promote drug sales through direct marketing to physicians. Doctors fall prey to drug company promotions and freebies that corrupt their prescribing practices. Big Pharm also infiltrates physician groups to influence prescription guidelines. As a result, Ohio physicians write prescriptions for over half a billion doses of opiates and painkillers (an extrapolation based on the Summit County statistics). Thousands of Ohioans become addicts and many die.
But no one in this chain of misery is held accountable. Big Pharm points to the doctors, claiming they are responsible for writing the prescriptions. Doctors point to the guidelines, claiming they were only following industry recommendations. And both Big Pharm and the doctors point to the patient, claiming the patient is the one who became addicted. But we now know it is the overprescription of drugs that leads to addiction. The costs to society are staggering: crime puts us all at risk, overdoses and treatment are overwhelming the health care system, and addicts and their families are in for a lifetime of heartbreak.
Under most circumstances, medical malpractice attorneys cannot prosecute an overprescription case because, as stated above, it is too easy for the prescribing physician to avoid responsibility. Some exceptions apply. First, if a physician is caught by federal authorities operating a “pill mill,” evidence can be uncovered to support a civil action. Unfortunately, in those cases, the physician is usually not sufficiently insured to compensate all of the lives ruined. Second, if a patient overdoses on prescription medications, there may be a claim against the physician or pharmacy, depending on the facts.
The future is just as bleak. Politicians have been corrupted by massive contributions from Big Pharma, Big Insurance and physician groups. So, there is little oversight or regulation in this arena. Further, there has been no effort to enact legislation that will allow medical malpractice attorneys to hold physicians accountable for drug pushing. Rather, corrupt Ohio politicians have been working to protect these wrongdoers by enacting unneeded tort reform legislation that makes it harder for Ohio families to sue.