Methadone Lawsuits and Methadone Liability in Massachusetts

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic form of opium, and was released into the US market back in 1947. Methadone was first used as a pain reliever, but its use in treating heroin addiction quickly became realized and methadone clinics started popping up during the Nixon administration.

Unfortunately, today, methadone is the fastest growing cause of narcotics deaths. Methadone is cheaper and lasts longer than drugs such as Oxycontin, and has long been used to fight chronic pain. However, methadone accounts for over twice as many deaths as heroin, a fact acknowledged by the FDA. The FDA has stated it has been slow to act in regards to acknowledging the dangerous side effects that come along with methadone abuse.

According to a New York Times article, “The rise of methadone is in part because of a major change in medical attitudes in the 1990’s…Insurance plans embraced methadone as a generic, cheaper alternative to other long-lasting painkillers like Oxycontin…”.

Methadone prescriptions have risen 700% from 1998 to 2006, and experts believe doctors do not fully understand, or remain unaware, the dangers of methadone and the speed at which it metabolizes in the body. This slow process can lead doctors to prescribe doses that are too high and can lead to potentially dangerous and fatal side effects. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, methadone contributed to 4,462 deaths in 2005, as opposed to 786 in 1999. Clearly the drastic increase of prescriptions has lead to a higher number of deaths associated with its use.

Up until 2006, the standard adult dose written on the box was “2.5 mg to 10 mg every 3-4 hours as needed”. This implied it was safe to take up to 80 mg in a day, but tests have proven that just 50 mg a day can potentially cause fatal complications. On the back of these studies, in November 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory to warn doctors, patients and pharmacists of life threatening changes in breathing, heart beat, and a risk of a toxic build up and death.

Toxic build up has been linked to life threatening respiratory and cardiac side effects. An overdose of methadone can often cause the victim to fall into a deep sleep and just stop breathing.

Methadone Side Effects

Methadone carries a significant risk of potentially fatal side effects. Symptoms and signs of a potential methadone overdose include;

  1. Slow, Shallow, or Labored Breathing
  2. Low Blood Pressure
  3. Drowsiness
  4. Dizziness
  5. Confusion/Disorientation
  6. Blurred Vision
  7. Inabilty to Think, Talk, or Walk Normally
  8. Respiratory Arrest (simply stop breathing)
  9. Falling into a Coma

Methadone Litigation

At Sheff Law, we are the Massachusetts law firm with the resources, experience, and national reputation to investigate personal injuries and wrongful deaths resulting from taking Methadone . Patients across Massachusetts and America are starting to realize some of the potential harmful consequences of using Methadone . If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of Methadone use, contact an attorney at Sheff Law today by filling out a FREE consultation form, or call at (888) 423-4477 or 617-227-7000.

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