Way back in August 2013, our law firm published numerous blogs and articles warning people of the significant safety risks associated with fentanyl, an extremely powerful prescription pain medication. In 2013, our Virginia wrongful death law firm was mainly concerned about fentanyl “pain patches” being overprescribed to patients and leading to a spike in accidental overdose deaths.
Our firm made repeated public pleas, including writing a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, imploring action on the availability and use of fentanyl as a pain remedy. Below is an overview of the blogs and articles we have published on this tragic topic:
- Fentanyl Pain Patch: Merchant of Accidental Overdose Death, Part I
- Fentanyl Pain Patch: Merchant of Accidental Overdose Death, Part II
- Why Fentanyl Is Dangerous Even When Used Under a Doctor’s Care
- A Virginia Wrongful Death Attorney Explains Dangerous Drug Liability
- Is Fentanyl Too Dangerous?
- Deaths of Famous Musicians Connected to Dangerous Opioid Medications
- Virginia Enacts New Restrictions on Opioid Painkillers
- Fentanyl Pain Patch Overdose Deaths
- Firm Attorney Interviewed by ABC News About Fentanyl Overdose Deaths
Present Day – Fentanyl Use is Much Worse and More Deadly
Fast forward to present day and, unfortunately, the safety risks and incidents of accidental overdose associated with fentanyl remain omnipresent and, by all accounts, are much worse. For example, there has been a sustained increase in the rate of accidental drug overdoses and most medical experts attribute the protracted spike to the use of opioid fentanyl, according to Yahoo News.
“If not for the pandemic, this would be the public health emergency of our lifetimes,” said Dr. Jason Graham, the chief medical examiner for New York City.
Dr. Graham and his colleagues have had an unfortunate front row seat to the havoc wrought by fentanyl. There were close to 2,700 accidental drug overdose deaths in New York City in 2021, which is the highest total of drug overdose deaths in at least two decades. If that was not bad enough, the death toll in 2022 is expected to be even higher. On average, New York City has a fatal drug overdose death every three hours.
“I’ve been in this field now for over 20 years, and I have never seen anything like this,” said Gail Cooper, a forensic toxicologist.
The same disturbing trend is taking place at a national level. For example, deaths from accidental drug overdoses spiked nationally to record-breaking levels in 2021, nearing 108,000 lives lost, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cocaine Laced with Fentanyl
One of the biggest drivers of fentanyl-related accidental drug overdose deaths is when fentanyl is combined with heroin and/or cocaine. This deadly concoction made national headlines in July 2022 when 26-year-old Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died due to overdosing on a combination of cocaine and fentanyl.
What You Can Do
There are organizations now offering assistance to individuals struggling with fentanyl withdrawal and addiction. A myriad of civil lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of fentanyl. For example, our Virginia Beach wrongful death law firm represented two families who tragically lost loved ones after a sudden overdose while using prescribed fentanyl pain patches. Here are just a few safety tips that we recommend to try and avoid becoming another victim of fentanyl:
- If you or a loved one was prescribed a fentanyl pain patch, consider asking the doctor to modify the prescription and provide a different, less potent, pain medication.
- If you or a loved one decide to use a fentanyl pain patch, carefully review the instructions to ensure the replacement pain patch is not applied until the exact number of hours has passed after the first patch was applied, in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
- Never apply a heating pad over the body area where the pain patch is located as that can increase the rate at which the opioid flows from the patch into the bloodstream.
- DO NOT apply two pain patches at the same time.
Harmed by a Dangerous Prescription Drug? Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer in Virginia Beach Today
If you were harmed, or a loved one died, due to the use of a prescription pain medication, contact a seasoned and knowledgeable Virginia Beach prescription drug injury attorney to discuss your legal options. The personal injury and wrongful death attorneys with our firm have effectively advocated for many clients seriously harmed due to dangerous or defective products, including prescription medications, and will use all available resources to get you the financial restitution you are owed for your harms and losses.
Rick Shapiro has practiced personal injury law for over 30 years in Virginia, North Carolina, and throughout the Southeastern United States. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and has litigated injury cases throughout the eastern United States, including wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad, and medical negligence claims. His success in and out of the courtroom is a big reason why he was named 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in railroad law in U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers publication (Norfolk, VA area), and he has been named a “Best Lawyer” and “Super Lawyer” by those peer-reviewed organizations for many years. Rick was also named a “Leader in the Law, Class of 2022” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (total of 33 statewide honorees consisting of lawyers and judges across Virginia). In September 2023, Rick was selected as a recipient of the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) 2023 President’s Award. Although many nominations were submitted from across the country, Rick was just one of eight attorneys chosen by the prestigious National Board which certifies civil trial attorneys across the U.S.