Dangerous Drug Claims
Let a Dangerous Drug Lawyer Help You Navigate Your Prescription Drug Claim
Most people in the United States take at least one prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drug. Although medications are perfectly safe for certain patients, those same drugs may be dangerous for other patients. Dangerous drugs could be deemed defective for various reasons, but not all dangerous drugs are the subject of recalls.
With recalls, a drug may be deemed defective and dangerous for all patients. With dangerous drugs, some patients may be at risk of sustaining injuries while others may not. As such, a drug may not be harmful to one person but could be for another.
Such drugs are not always recalled when injuries occur, but the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may require drug manufacturers to place enhanced “black box” warnings on the drug’s label. Medications that carry dangerous risks that are not warned about can cause permanent or fatal injuries.
At Searcy Denney, each dangerous drug lawyer at our firm fights tirelessly to ensure pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals are held responsible when their conduct causes a patient to sustain severe and often permanent injuries. To speak with a dangerous drug lawyer or prescription drug lawyer, contact our office today.
When is a Drug Deemed Dangerous?
Drugs (whether prescription or OTC) can be dangerous in various ways, and it is important to keep in mind that a drug that is typically considered safe can be extremely dangerous in certain situations. Examples of when a drug becomes dangerous include, among others, the following:
- Drug defects, such as contamination, which is a type of manufacturing defect (as discussed on our defective drugs page)
- Prescription mistakes, such as prescribing a drug a patient is allergic to or prescribing a medication that interacts with a drug a patient is already taking
- Dispensing errors on the part of a pharmacy, such as administering the wrong medication or wrong dose of medication contrary to a doctor’s prescription
- The development of severe and sometimes permanent or fatal side effects that are not warned about in drug’s label as well as in the drug’s instructions or directions for use
Although doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies may be to blame in some instances where a patient is injured because of prescribing or dosing mishaps, a substantial number of dangerous drug lawsuits involve the manufacturers of those drugs, which is collectively and commonly known as “big pharma”. To be successful in fighting big pharma, injured patients must work with a skilled prescription drug lawyer.
FDA Approval – The Requirement to Disclose Known Risks and Dangers
The FDA approval process is stringent, requiring drug manufacturers to present evidence that a drug is safe and effective for its intended use. Most people have seen prescription drug commercials with a long list of side effects at the bottom of the screen. Despite an extensive list of side effects, the advertised drug still may be safe for a particular category of patients but not for others.
When these advertisements do not reveal ALL known risks, a drug becomes dangerous for some or all patients. One example is the prescription drug Lamictal/Lamotrigine, which is often used to treat epilepsy but is also used to treat some patients with depression. While this drug may be safe for many patients, other patients who fit a particular profile may develop a painful rash that can leave permanent scarring, known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS).
The manufacturer of Lamictal did not initially provide warning information about the risks of SOME patients developing SJS, and because enough patients suffered from this condition after taking Lamictal/Lamotrigine, the FDA required the manufacturers of both the brand and generic version to add a “black box” warning to the drug’s label.
Black box warnings are the FDA’s way of saying that drug manufacturers have not done enough to warn of dangerous side effects and that the medical community and patients need to be aware of the risks of taking the drug. When approving a drug, the FDA trusts that the information being provided is accurate and that sufficient studies and drug trials have yielded all potential dangerous side effects.
The FDA May Not Have All of the Information About a Prescription Drug
Unfortunately, big pharma does not always fully disclose known risks and side effects they know about to the FDA, or they move too quickly and fail to undergo the necessary testing to discover the most severe side effects (or conceal unfavorable test results). Decades of mass tort litigation against big pharma for a variety of dangerous drugs has demonstrated that many drug makers tend to hide information they know about, all at the expense of billions in profit.
As such, the bottom line is that simply because a drug is FDA-approved does not mean the medication is free from dangers. Additionally, in the case of defective drugs (such as contamination of known carcinogens0, the drugs may have been safe for their intended use upon approval but became dangerous when contaminated batches of the drug were manufactured and reached the patient population.
Holding Defendants Liable – Our Dangerous Drug Lawyer Explains
Generally, pharmaceutical companies and distributors are held liable in defective drug cases, which often overlap with dangerous drug cases, given that defective drugs are inherently dangerous. However, because not all dangerous drugs carry defects that apply to an entire patient population, additional defendants aside from drug manufactures may be at issue.
A list of potential defendants in a dangerous drug case that a qualified prescription drug lawyer frequently takes on include, but may not be limited to, the following:
- Pharmaceutical Companies – Dangerous drug lawsuits inevitably involve a drug’s manufacturer when a patient’s injuries can be linked to an act or omission on behalf of the pharmaceutical company, such as failing to warn of dangerous side effects for certain patient populations, as should be identified in a drug’s label and the drug’s directions or instructions for use.
- Sales Representatives – Sales representatives who push a company’s drug may fail to inform doctors about the same risks and dangers omitted in the drug’s label. A failure to communicate warnings to doctors means that doctors cannot educate their patients about the risks and dangers of a drug.
- Medical Providers – Although drug makers have the ultimate responsibility to ensure a drug’s dangers are adequately disclosed, medical doctors, physicians’ assistants, and pharmacists, among other medical professionals, have a duty to keep abreast of changes to a drug’s label, such as added warnings. For example, suppose the FDA has released information to medical providers indicating a drug now has a black box warning, and a failure to communicate such information to patients resulted in patient injuries. In that case, the prescribing medical provider may be found liable.
Our Prescription Drug Lawyer Can Help Identify Dangerous Drug Injuries
The nature and extent of dangerous drug injuries depend on the intended use of the drug at issue, a patient’s medical history, and whether a patient knew a drug’s dangers. Examples of debilitating injuries that have been linked to dangerous drugs include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) – SJS is a painful rash that may leave permanent scarring that has been linked to multiple medications, including Lamictal/Lamotrigine, Tegretol, Risperdal, and Mobic, among others.
- Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) – TD is a Parkinson’s-like extrapyramidal disorder in which a patient suffers from involuntary mouth, face, arm, or leg movements. The condition is permanent and requires additional medication to alleviate symptoms. TD has been linked to the use of Reglan/Metoclopramide and Risperdal, among others.
- Various Cancers – In the context of dangerous drugs that have proven to be defective due to contamination, numerous cancers have been linked to contaminants found in many medications, including, among others, Zantac, Losartan, and Valsartan.
- Excessive Internal Bleeding – Internal bleeding can be deadly if not caught early and treated. All blood thinners can be extremely dangerous if not appropriately prescribed and/or if drug manufacturers do not properly warn about known side effects. Blood thinners that have been linked to dangerous internal bleeding include, but are not limited to, Coumadin/Warfarin, Xarelto, Pradaxa, Eliquis, Lovenox, and Heparin.
Because the pharmaceutical drug industry (both prescription and OTC drugs) rakes in billions each year, drugs that are not adequately tested and studied to reveal the most serious dangers associated with taking them will continue to enter the marketplace.
Even if a drug is considered safe for MOST patients, drug makers still have a duty to take all appropriate measures to identify when a drug may be dangerous and what patient population should avoid taking the drug at issue.
Valuing a Plaintiff’s Injuries – Understanding Damages
Filing a lawsuit or seeking to be included in a large settlement (when filing a case may be unnecessary) is an extensive process that requires an evaluation of the facts surrounding ingestion of a dangerous drug as well as the damages a patient has suffered because of a prescription medication.
Examples of damages, which are identifiable harms that must be proven at trial, include the following:
- Physical and mental pain and suffering, which are considered non-economic damages;
- Present and future medical expenditures for hospital stays, testing/imaging, doctors’ visits, mental health treatment, and physical therapy, among others, that are incurred as a direct result of a dangerous drug;
- Present and future lost wages and the loss of chance of working in the future when injuries are substantial enough to cause permanent disability; and
- Funeral expenses, in cases where injuries are fatal.
Damages are unique to each case, even if their cause is the same across a large patient population. For example, a drug reaction, such as SJS or TD, may be mild for some patients and severe for others. In such cases, patients with a more severe reaction will have greater damages. Our seasoned prescription drug lawyer will seek all potential damages to ensure defendants are held responsible when their conduct leads to significant injuries.
Why You Need to Work with a Dangerous Drug Lawyer
Dangerous drug cases may involve one defendant or involve multiple defendants, depending on the alleged conduct. For example, if a drug maker and a physician are both at fault for causing a patient’s injuries, a dangerous drug lawyer must name both defendants in one lawsuit, given the injuries involve the same set of facts.
Whether a drug manufacturer and/or a physician is liable for a patient’s injuries is difficult to determine without the assistance of a legal professional. A patient may want to blame their doctor when all liability should be placed on the manufacturer of a dangerous drug. On the flip side, a patient may love his or her doctor and only want to blame a drug manufacturer when the doctor caused or contributed to the cause of the patient’s injuries.
Without discussing the merits of a potential case and all legal options with a dangerous drug lawyer, potential clients may not have a solid understanding of their rights and whether they have an opportunity to seek compensation for their suffering.
Discussing the Statute of Limitations with Your Lawyer
Waiting too long to discuss dangerous drug injuries with a lawyer can be detrimental to an injured person’s potential legal claim. First, if a patient waits until AFTER a statute of limitation expires to file a lawsuit or reach out to a lawyer, it is too late with few exceptions. Second, waiting too long to speak with a lawyer runs the risk of misremembering facts as memories fade over time.
Additionally, waiting too long to seek medical attention for dangerous drug injuries can make it difficult to link the injuries to the ingestion of a particular drug. A delay in treatment would lead to a delayed diagnosis, which in turn would lead to an injured patient reaching out to a lawyer much later.
Depending on the statute of limitations being applied in a particular case (which can be anywhere between one and five years, depending on the state), the time to file a lawsuit may have passed.
Therefore, anyone who becomes ill or suffers injuries following ingestion of a prescription or OTC drug should immediately seek medical attention to determine whether the drug is to blame. Based on a medical professional’s findings and a patient’s diagnosis, the patient would have a better idea of whether seeking the advice of a dangerous drug lawyer is warranted.
Contact Searcy Denney Today to Speak with a Prescription Drug Lawyer
Have you suffered injuries after taking a dangerous drug? If so, the drug’s manufacturer or your doctor may be to blame. Find out whether you have a potential legal claim by speaking with an experienced dangerous drug lawyer.
Each dangerous drug lawyer and prescription drug lawyer at our firm has and continues to advocate for the rights of clients who have suffered personal injuries through no fault of their own. To receive a free case evaluation, contact our office today by calling (800) 780-8607 or by completing a case inquiry form on our website.