Most people have taken a prescription drug at some point in their lives, whether that’s Accutane for acne, an SSRI for anxiety and depression, or anything in between. In fact, a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2015 and 2016 found that 45.8% of people had taken a prescription drug in the past 30 days.
When we take a prescribed drug, we put our trust in the doctor telling us this is a safe and/or necessary thing to do. However, the unfortunate truth is that even when a drug is prescribed by a doctor, things can go wrong. And of course, not all dangerous drugs require a prescription — some can be obtained over the counter.
Every drug comes with the potential of damaging side effects, and we at Munley Law are here to fight for justice for those who have been harmed. If you or a loved one experienced an injury due to a dangerous drug, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our Munley dangerous drug lawyers are ready to give you a free initial consultation today.
What Are Some Types of Dangerous Drugs?
While any drug has the potential to cause harm, some drugs have historically caused greater or more consistent injury than others. Below are just a few of the many drugs that have been involved in lawsuits claiming they caused some form of injury or damage:
- Accutane: There was a time when approximately 8,000 cases across the country were pending against the makers of Accutane, an acne treatment that injured parties say caused things as extreme as permanent vision loss and internal organ damage. Suits have also claimed the drug causes Crohn’s disease and other bowel disorders.
- Abilify: Several parties have filed suits against the makers of Abilify, an antipsychotic, claiming that the manufacturers did not warn doctors or consumers about the drug’s ability to cause compulsive behaviors.
- Paxil: In the past 30 years, around 5,000 people have filed suits against the makers of this SSRI. In 2009, a jury awarded $2.5 million to a child who was born with “severe heart malformations” due to his mother using Paxil as prescribed during her pregnancy.
- Opioids: Most people are aware of the fact that America is currently grappling with an opioid epidemic. The producer of the opioid OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, was forced to file for bankruptcy after it settled lawsuits from across 23 states.
- Actos: Actos was intended to control blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. However, thousands of lawsuits were filed against the manufacturers claiming that the drug causes an increased risk of bladder cancer and heart failure. In 2015, the manufacturer did not admit guilt, but did settle approximately 9,000 claims for $2.4 billion.
- Yaz/Yasmin: These birth control pills, produced by Bayer, have been at the center of more than 18,000 lawsuits over the years. The suits claim that Yasmin and Yaz caused heart attacks, strokes, life threatening blood clots, and gallbladder issues. In all, the company has paid tens of millions of dollars in settlements.
- GranuFlo: GranuFlo is a dry powder that is intended to be diluted with water, combined with sodium bicarbonate, and administered via hemodialysis machines to help those experiencing kidney failure. However, it’s been determined that the drug can cause a condition called metabolic alkalosis, which in turn causes low blood pressure, low potassium levels, low blood oxygen, high blood carbon dioxide, and cardiac arrhythmia that can result in sudden cardiac arrest.
And many, many more.
What Injuries and Illnesses Are a Result of Dangerous Drugs?
If you have a bottle of aspirin in your cabinet, you’re likely familiar with the fact that drugs of all kinds tend to provide a list of potential side effects on their packaging. Some of these are mild, like temporary nausea or mild headache. However, side effects from a prescription or over-the-counter drug can also be extremely serious and potentially long-lasting. Some of the more extreme possible side effects for medications of all kinds include:
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Liver damage
- Heightened risk of cancer
- Blood clots
- Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts
- Compulsive behaviors and/or lack of impulse control
- Chronic pain
- Physical debilitation
In addition to side effects, adverse reactions are also a risk of drug use. Adverse reactions are slightly different from side effects, in that they are usually unexpected, not studied during the trial, and are often completely unique to the patient (potentially due to an allergy or some detail of the interaction). Adverse reactions can be very scary because they are far more unpredictable than side effects.
When Can You Take Legal Action Against a Dangerous Drug Company?
In the US, all drugs are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); in fact, drug manufacturers “may spend as much as $1 billion and up to 12 years to gain permission to sell a new prescription product.” But while every drug that’s approved by the FDA has been tested before entering the marketplace, there are unfortunately still many cases in which drugs cause serious, long-lasting, and often devastating side effects or adverse reactions.
Historically, there have been questions as to whether the general public has the right to sue a pharmaceutical company for complications around a drug that is FDA approved, but a few key cases have answered that question with a resounding yes. About a decade ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court faced a case with this very issue at its heart, and determined the following: “Under Pennsylvania law, pharmaceutical companies violate their duty of care if they introduce a drug into the marketplace, or continue a previous tender, with actual or constructive knowledge that the drug is too harmful to be used by anyone.”
Pharmaceutical companies do have some protection under the law. For example, they are generally protected from being sued if the company took reasonable steps to warn consumers of the side effect at hand. However, there are times when it’s absolutely within your legal rights to take legal action. The three broad categories that encompass dangerous drug cases are:
- A defective design
- An issue in the manufacturing process
- Defective or incomplete marketing (meaning a failure to adequately warn consumers of all potential side effects)
Whichever category you believe your experience falls into, there are some things you and your dangerous drug lawyer will need to prove in order to win your case. First of all, you will need to prove that you experienced an injury. This can be done with medical records and bills, amongst other evidence. You will then need to prove that there was either a defective design in the medication, an error in the manufacturing process that caused harm, or that you were not properly warned about the medication’s side effects, depending on the specifics of your case. If the pharmaceutical company did provide a warning about the side effect you experienced, you and your dangerous drug lawyer will need to prove it was an inadequate warning.
Going up against a big pharmaceutical company is no easy task. These companies spare no expense when it comes to their legal defense, so you’ll want the best legal counsel on your side as you begin this journey. At Munley Law, we have the dedication and experience to defend you at every step of the process. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dangerous Drug Cases
What’s the Difference Between a Dangerous Drug Class Action and an Individual Lawsuit?
In pharmaceutical cases, there are two types of lawsuits that can arise: an individual suit and a class action lawsuit. But what are the differences between the two?
An individual suit is, essentially, just what it sounds like: an individual suing (in this case) a pharmaceutical company or manufacturer. A class action suit, on the other hand, occurs when a group of people files a suit together. In many cases, they are brought by a group of individuals on behalf of an even larger group. Often, a class action lawsuit is the right move when the individual harm caused is somewhat minor, but is much more notable when taken as a whole. For instance, if a drug is causing a moderate or mild injury, the pharmaceutical company may not take a suit coming from an individual seriously. But if hundreds of people team together, the company often has no choice but to listen.
Individual or private lawsuits tend to be a wiser move for severe or wrongful death cases or any case where the individual’s circumstances alone are enough to compel the court to act.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Dangerous Drug Lawsuit?
Many parties are involved with the development, production, marketing, and administration of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. So when something goes wrong, who is at fault?
The answer likely depends upon the specifics of your case, and it’s important to review all your case details with your experienced dangerous drug lawyer in order to determine the best course of action. However, there are several potential parties that are commonly at fault in dangerous drug personal injury cases. These may include:
- The drug manufacturer
- The labs where the drug was tested and developed
- The physician who prescribed the drug
- The pharmacist or pharmacy that filled the prescription
- The clinic or hospital where the drug was administered
How Can You Prove Your Dangerous Drug Case?
Dangerous drug cases are some of the most complex personal injury cases out there, due to the level of expertise required to prove your injury. Unlike a car accident, where it’s fairly straightforward to prove or explain what happened, dangerous drug cases often require insight from medical experts in order to prove that your injury was a direct result of the drug. Of course, pharmaceutical companies will have their own medical experts on hand to weigh in. And even if it’s clear the injury is caused by the drug, they will likely argue that they offered all consumers fair warning about the relevant side effects. That’s why it is key to work with an experienced attorney who can prove your case.
What Compensation Can I Receive in a Dangerous Drug Case?
As with other personal injury cases, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of s dangerous drug. Economic losses you may be compensated for include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Lost wages
- Future lowered earning capacity
- Lifestyle and mobility expenses (such as the cost of home care or renovations needed to make your home accessible)
Non-economic losses may include:
- Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
Speak to your experienced dangerous drug lawyer at Munley Law to review your case and see what kinds of compensation you may be eligible to receive.
Why Munley Law?
If you have experienced an injury from a dangerous drug, you have been through a devastating and traumatic experience, and for that, we are so deeply sorry. But you should not have to carry the additional burden of navigating your rights in the legal system alone. There is a way through, and Munley Law is always here to help you find it. The medical malpractice lawyers here at Munley Law are experts in all things personal injury, and we have your best interests at heart. Our goal is to help all victims of dangerous drugs achieve the justice they are owed.
At Munley Law, each of our lawyers has over a decade of experience, as well as hands-on trial and courtroom experience. We do not get paid unless we win your case, and we will be by your side as you fight to make things right in the wake of your car accident. We also have a stellar record when it comes to winning cases for our clients.
If you are seeking legal representation, or simply want a free case evaluation, please reach out to our dangerous drug lawyer here at Munley Law. We are a premier law firm in Northeastern Pennsylvania and can provide you with an experienced dangerous drug attorney who will be by your side every step of the way.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can help protect your interests.