Contrary to what may people believe, not every over-the-counter or prescribed medication is guaranteed to be safe. Certain individuals who use or ingest one of these drugs will subsequently suffer physical or emotional injury. Why would this happen? Aren’t these substances tested, and hasn’t the Food and Drug Administration given them all a seal of approval?
Despite succeeding in clinical trials and appearing to be safe, many legal drugs will contain previously undetected manufacturing defects. Some will may have reached the market in a misleading manner with warnings that are either evasive, incomplete or missing entirely. Others which in early testing gave little to no indication of causing harmful side effects can still harbor inherent dangers that fail to show up for years or even decades.
Defective Drugs and Injuries: Who Is to Blame?
In any situation involving physical harm caused by a defective drug, one or more of three potential culprits could potentially face legal charges. These include:
- The drug’s manufacturer. Before submitting a drug for FDA approval, the pharmaceutical company is legally obliged to conduct or authorize tests and clinical trials to prove the substance’s safety and effectiveness. If this verification period should uncover evidence of potential risks and side effects, the manufacturer must list them on the label along with all applicable warnings. Producers of defective drugs can be brought to task under product liability statutes.
- The prescribing physician. Where drugs are involved, medical professionals have responsibilities of their own. Doctors must prescribe the correct dosage. They must also ensure that the drug they are prescribing plays well with any other medications the patient may already be taking.
- The pharmacist. Pharmacists have a legal obligation to fill prescriptions accurately. Although they are not doctors, any failure to provide the right dosage could subject them to a lawsuit for medical malpractice.
Of course, anyone involved in with manufacturing, prescribing or providing any sort of drug will have an obligation to warn the patient of any potential harms that he or she could suffer from taking the drug.
Common Defective Drug-Related Injuries
Anyone who takes an over-the-counter or prescription drug will normally do so for the benefit it provides without giving much thought to that medication’s hidden injury potential. Common critical conditions that often owe their origins to defective drugs include:
- Heart attacks resulting from the use of decongestants, drugs high in sodium and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, better known as NSAIDS.
- Hemorrhages that can lead to stroke after the ingestion of oral contraceptives, proton pump inhibitors and OTC drugs used to treat allergies, coughs and colds.
- Diabetes derived from statins and certain hypertension drugs.
- A rise in blood pressure following the ingestion of decongestants, NSAIDs and others.
- Internal organ damage due to the use of antipsychotics, oral contraceptives, antibiotics, chemotherapy, blood pressures medications and once again, NSAIDs.
- Depression subsequent to the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, antidepressants and others.
What Does FDA Approval Really Mean?
Contrary to widespread belief, the FDA’s approval does not guarantee that a drug will be safe for everyone. There will always be a certain number of people for whom a certain over-the-counter or prescription medication will lead to physical harm or even death. Therefore, the law demands that these drugs and their accompanying literature carry the appropriate warnings and recommendations for usage. Failure to provide these things could subject the pharmaceutical company to defective-product liability.
When and if the FDA does learn of a certain medication’s previously undiscovered potential for doing damage, it will generally recall the drug. The recall may force the addition of specific warnings to the product’s label or could lead to having it taken off the market entirely. Despite adhering to its strictest guidelines, however, the FDA is not always able to keep unsafe drugs away from the consumer. Furthermore, the receipt of FDA approval will not absolve the pharmaceutical company from responsibility for having brought a dangerous drug to the market.
Filing a Product Liability Suit for Defective Drugs
Anyone suffering injury resulting from defective drugs has a limited window of opportunity for filing a product liability lawsuit. The statute of limitations will vary from state to state. In Nevada, the plaintiff must bring action within the four years that follow the date on which the injury occurred. This will not always coincide with the date on which it was discovered.
If you have suffered an injury caused by a dangerous or defective product, it is in your best interests to seek legal assistance as soon as you can. At Weiner Law Group, we will show you the ways in which the time limits apply to your case and see if there is any way to overcome them if necessary. Injuries caused by defective drugs are a serious matter. If you have suffered in this way or know of someone who has, call the personal injury attorneys at Weiner Law Group today at 702-202-0500 for a free consultation.