When is it Acceptable to Sue?
Doctors, manufacturers, distributors and sellers of medications are responsible for creating, prescribing and delivering safe products that are equipped with relevant information regarding drug dangers. Nearly all medications on every shelf and behind the counters of every pharmacy have some type of undesirable side effect(s). They can range from being relatively harmless to potentially life-threatening. In 2015, nobody is shocked anymore when they hear about a dangerous drug harming those patients who are taking prescribed medication.
Each year approximately 4.5 million Americans unexpectedly need to visit their physician or an emergency room due to the unforeseen side effects of their prescription drugs. In addition, two million already-hospitalized patients suffer from harmful side effects.
Despite federal regulations, precise standards and thorough testing that goes into earning the approval of the Federal Drug Administration, federal regulators allow a certain amount of adverse side effects. Regulators aren’t robots – they make mistakes, gloss over potentially risky consequences and fail to detect critical product flaws. The good news is that just because a drug has been approved, that doesn’t mean the manufacturers can get off scot free once complications do arise. A company can face lawsuits even after gaining FDA approval.
Injuries incurred due to the dangers of a medication can be severe and tragic, and in certain instances, when a medication does more harm than good, patients who were harmed by prescribed or over-the-counter medications can seek justice. When a person files a lawsuit for adverse side effects to a medication, in order to recover compensation for injuries and damages, it is called a defective product liability claim.
The three types of defective product liability claims…
- A product that has been defectively manufactured
- A product that has been defectively designed
- A product that fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions on its label
A patient who has suffered serious side effects may be able to sue the pharmaceutical company, sales representatives, laboratories, prescribing physicians, pharmacists and/or a hospital or other medical facility. To effectively win this type of case, a plaintiff must prove that he or she incurred some type of injury; that the drug was either defectively manufactured, improperly marketed or has dangerous side effects; and that the injury was proximately caused by the aforementioned manufacturing, marketing or side effects.
The patient is unlikely to have a case if…
- The patient’s physician warned him or her of the serious side effects before prescribing the drug, and the patient still chose to take the drug.
- A pharmacist warned a patient of the damaging side effects when dispensing the medication, and the patient chose to take it anyway.
- Sufficient written warnings were placed on the label, packaging and/or insert.
Possible side effects…
It is impossible to give a complete and accurate list of prescription and over-the-counter drug side effects that patients can sue for, because each and every case is different. However, we can provide a catalog of common side effects for which patients file lawsuits.
- Physical Debilitation: When a patient suffers severe and physically debilitating side effects, he or she may be able to file a lawsuit. This generally includes abdominal pain, joint pain, onset of arthritis, ulcers, liver inflammation, stunted growth, sporadic muscle movement and birth defects.
- Liver Damage: Many people underestimate the risk of liver damage and liver failure when taking medications, because warnings are insufficient. When taken as prescribed, medications are unlikely to cause liver damage, however certain cases, usually involving over-the-counter drugs, apply.
- Stroke: Stroke is a frightening, yet common side effect of many prescription medications due to their risk of blood clots and artery damage. Because the risk is relatively frequent, many drug companies that are aware of the increased risk of stroke fail to properly inform doctors and patients of the danger.
- Heart and Cardiovascular Conditions: It is not uncommon for medications to be recalled after data is uncovered that the drugs show an increased risk of heart attack, congestive heart failure, unremitting heart damage blood clots and cardiovascular complications.
- Suicidal Thoughts: Various medications, especially those which are prescribed to prevent suicide and depression, have been found to have the opposite effect. Studies show that many anti-depressants significantly increase the risk of suicide. Other drugs that have been found to cause suicidal thoughts and actions are painkillers and drugs prescribed to treat bipolar disorder.
- Death: When a loved one has passed away, and the patient’s family suspects that the death may have been due to the adverse side effects of a medication, the family should hire a defective products liability attorney.