The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued its strongest warning for the combined prescription of opioid pain medicines and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium. When used together, these drugs can result in slowed or difficult breathing, falling into a coma, and in some cases, even death.
Importantly, there appears to be a strong link between this combination of drugs and deaths attributed to an opioid overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that, in 2015, 23% of people who died of an opioid overdose also tested positive for benzodiazepines. For this reason, both prescription opioids and benzodiazepines now carry an FDA “black box” warning to highlight the dangers of using these drugs together.
Opioids are typically prescribed to manage pain and, in some cases, are prescribed as a cough medicine. Names you might typically see on a label would be oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures; in addition to the examples noted above, this class of drugs includes alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death from the combined use of these prescription drugs, please contact our office to discuss your legal options with one of our attorneys.