The number of deaths being caused by opioid use, abuse, and addiction across the nation is staggering -- and it seems like people are finally starting to realize that the prescription crisis didn't just happen organically or overnight.

It may have essentially been the product of marketing, a deliberate disregard for the truth, and a desire for profits without regard to consumer safety. If you've lost a loved one to an overdose after he or she became addicted to prescription painkillers, this is what you need to know.

How Drug Companies Manufactured A Disaster

There's no question that chronic pain is a problem for many. However, there are a lot of questions about how to treat that pain appropriately. In most cases, long-term pain can't be effectively treated with opioid painkillers. As patients adjust to their doses, it takes more and more medication to work.

However, drug companies purposefully misled doctors into believing that their products were safe when used as directed. Addiction was almost impossible, they claimed, if you didn't abuse the drugs and had a real need for the medication. They claimed pain was under-treated and they had the cure -- for a price.

Their aggressive marketing techniques were right out of the playbook that was once used by Big Tobacco to push its products on the unwary -- only the pill companies targeted doctors, not consumers. They essentially got doctors to push their products on patients. While some doctors were guilty of overprescribing, most were genuinely interested in their patients' quality-of-life. They weren't trying to make a bad situation worse.

How The Companies Could Have Known There Were Problems

Essentially, drug manufacturers have always held the reins on how many prescription painkillers were out there and available for consumption. They didn't make use of internal audits or flag suspicious activity that could have detected "pill mills" in an area or pointed to overprescribing. 

In some cases, records show that companies were fully aware that there were more prescriptions being filled in a given area than there were actual people living there! For example, a small town in West Virginia with a population of only 392 people filled prescriptions for 9 million hydrocodone pills in just a two-year period!

How Communities And Individuals Can Fight Back

Several states and local communities are now suing drug manufacturers for the costs they've incurred battling the opioid crisis -- which amounts to millions of dollars in some areas. In addition, there are individuals who are also suing over deaths related to prescription addiction and overdoses. The estate of music industry icon Prince, for example, is suing both a hospital and a pharmacy for negligence related to his overdose death.

Other lawsuits are likely to follow against negligent pharmacies and drug manufacturers who willingly let so many prescriptions for pain medication get into the hands of victims. They're working to expose the blatant lies and misinformation that drug companies used to convince doctors -- and patients, by extension -- that the drugs were safe. This is a tactic similar to those used by lawsuits against the tobacco industry -- which seems appropriate given how the drug crisis started.

If you lost someone to a prescription drug overdose, consider talking to a personal injury attorney from a place like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm  today.