Mark M. Cheser 35 Years of Criminal Defense Experience
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Are Drug Manufacturers To Blame For The Opioid Epidemic?

Addiction and overdose from opioid drugs have reached epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 33,000 opioid-related deaths that occurred in 2015, half resulted from prescription painkillers. Now, a group of attorneys general from across the country have banded together to investigate how drug manufacturers market and sell prescription opioids. The group seeks to determine whether drug manufacturers have misled physicians about the dangers of their drugs in order to boost sales.

Going rogue

Separate from the investigation, individual cities, states and counties--including Ohio; Everett, Washington; and counties in West Virginia and Tennessee -- have already filed litigation against drug companies, accusing them of using deceptive and dangerous practices that prioritize profit over safety. The Cherokee Nation, similarly, has sued pharmacies and other distributors and retailers for their role in perpetuating the epidemic.

Tough laws in New Jersey

New Jersey has recently enacted one of the nation's toughest opioid prescription laws, which limits prescriptions for acute pain to a five-day supply. Doctors may request an additional 25-day supply if a patient remains in pain, but they must conduct an in-person consultation with the patient to determine whether an extension is necessary. In addition, doctors must register with the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP), which tracks details of patients' prescription history for opioids, including which pharmacies have filled prescriptions.

Dealing with charges

While hospitals, jails and unfortunately, morgues continue to fill with people who have wittingly or unwittingly become users of opioid drugs, the attorney generals' investigation could start to uncover those who may have been profiting from others' pain. In the meantime, if you or a loved one has been charged with an opioid-related drug crime, you need a lawyer to protect your rights and ensure that you have the best chance at a fresh start and a productive future.

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