This may no longer be true, but as of 2019, the State of Florida accounted for nearly 25% of all opioid prosecutions filed against physicians. Such cases involved allegations of drug trafficking, fraud, medical malpractice, and even manslaughter in the cases of patient death. Of those, doctors were convicted of drug trafficking more often than any other crime.
Much has been written about the opioid epidemic, the Sackler family, and the newest season of Goliath completely revolves around a dramatization of a potential opioid prescription lawsuit. Of course, the hero attorney wins his suit against the evil opioid companies to the tune of several billion dollars that can not be discharged in bankruptcy after a finding of willful misconduct. Everyone goes away with a happy feeling and the millions of families impacted by opioids are finally redeemed.
The problem is that any time there is a broadscale hysteria in the media over a specific topic, every politician and their brother wants to be out in the forefront looking like they’re the hero that’s going to get justice for the victims. To be certain, the victims deserve justice. In many cases, they should never have been exposed to the opioids in the first place and we need to take a look at the role of pharmaceutical companies in marketing and making the drug available.
Today, some pharmaceutical executives have faced charges of racketeering related to their role in trafficking opioids to pill mills in counties that only had a few thousand residents. However, these counties would routinely get shipments of painkillers for communities several times their size. It is supposed that the executives should have known better which is why they are being convicted of crimes. However, some doctors who were simply doing their job are also being caught in the crossfire.
Changing medical standards
The biggest problem is that Sackler-led opioid companies mis-marketed the drugs to both patients and doctors. The doctors were led to believe that the newest wave of opioids were “less addictive” than the previous generations. They were not. We know historically that heroin and drugs like that were also marketed as being “less addictive” than morphine and similar opioids of the time. So this is not a new marketing technique. It’s the same technique being used over and over. And it’s a bald-faced lie. The lie resulted in doctors mis-prescribing the drugs for common ailments, a practice that is avoided in other countries.
So, at the time of dispensing, many of the doctors were prescribing drugs in a manner that met the standard of care for the profession at the time. Once we realized the extent of the problem, that the drugs were just as addictive (if not more addictive) than their predecessors, we blamed the pharmaceutical companies, but also went overboard attempting to prosecute doctors who were simply doing their job as they understood it.
Nonetheless, doctors are being prosecuted based on revised standards fabricated out of the hysteria of a media “epidemic”, and in many cases (with some notable exceptions of intentional misconduct) this remains unfair.
Talk to an Opioid Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing charges of mis-prescribing opioids in Florida, then you need an attorney who will fight your side of the story. Call the Tampa criminal lawyers at Trombley & Hanes today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your options immediately.