When Your Medication Harms You: Pharmaceutical Drug Liability
Prescription pharmaceutical names like Vioxx, Fen-Phen, and Baycol are primarily famous not because of the good they did, but because of the harm, they caused. Pharmaceutical companies release dozens of new prescription medications every year, and every year more people suffer because of drug-related problems. Someone who suffers harm as the result of taking a prescription medication can often recover money for the injuries they’ve endured. Like other product liability cases, pharmaceutical drug cases typically involve a number of common elements.
The Chain of Distribution
A prescription drug is a complicated product, one that involves the participation of numerous people and organizations. When someone is hurt as the result of taking a prescription medication, finding out who was responsible involves looking at a lot of possible suspects.
Drug Manufacturers. Prescription drugs originate with the pharmaceutical companies that create them. These companies have a responsibility to make sure the product they create is safe and properly tested before they release it for consumer use. Even if the FDA approves the pharmaceutical for use, the manufacturer can still be held liable for problems associated with the drug.
Your Doctor. It’s up to your doctor to properly prescribe a prescription drug. Physicians are responsible for ensuring that you receive a prescription for a drug that meets your medical needs.
Your Pharmacist. While your doctor will prescribe the medication, it’s up to your pharmacist to ensure that you get the actual drugs. Pharmacists have to ensure that you receive the correct medication, that you know how to take it, and that your prescription bottles are properly labeled.
Just like any other consumer product, not all drugs are dangerous, and not all injuries that arise as the result of taking a pharmaceutical will lead to a successful lawsuit. In order to recover money for the harm you suffered, you will have to show that something went wrong. Here are some common reasons why people sue for damages caused by prescription drugs.
The manufacturer made a bad product. In some situations, a drug manufacturer will create a product that is manufactured incorrectly. For example, your doctor might give you a prescription for an antibiotic if you have some kind of infection. Antibiotics are normally rather safe, but if the manufacturer didn’t use the proper quality control systems at the factory, the antibiotics you receive might be tainted. While taking antibiotics normally wouldn’t be a problem, taking a tainted product could result in harm.
You receive an inadequate warning. Many prescription drugs have known side effects, some of which can be harmful to the consumer. Nevertheless, these drugs are useful and made available to the public on the condition that consumers receive a proper advance warning. In some situations, a drug manufacturer, physician, or pharmacist can provide the consumer with bad advice. Whether the advice comes from misleading marketing materials used by the manufacturer, inadequate warning labels on pharmacy bottles, or a physician prescribing medication for reasons other than what they were intended for, consumers can be harmed because of the incorrect or misleading information they rely upon.
There are many legal issues that have to be dealt with in any drug liability case. If you think you’ve been harmed because of the medication you’ve taken, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Most people don’t know enough about medication or the law to form an educated opinion about your situation, and only an experienced attorney can give you legal advice about what you should do.