Many people rely on prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat medical conditions, maintain their health, and preserve their lives. The pharmaceutical industry is vast, and with the rapidly advancing research and technology of today’s world come a plethora of new drugs. However with time, many of these drugs are revealed to have dangerous side effects, and all too often, their use results in a patient’s injury. Victims of drug injuries in Clinton, South Carolina, can recover compensation from the appropriate party with the help of an experienced law firm.
Before a new drug is put on the market, it must go through a rigorous testing process and be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Before a drug is approved, it must be tested to determine its effectiveness, its safety, and that there are no excessively dangerous side effects.
However, it is the drug companies themselves that conduct the testing, and it is in the pharmaceutical companies’ financial interests to get their drugs approved as quickly as possible. When a drug company considers its bottom line to be more important than its patients’ health, it may skimp on testing. Perhaps the study has too small sample size or too short a duration, or a company may downplay or fail to report unfavorable data to the FDA.
Even if a drug obtains FDA approval, this does not guarantee its safety. The drug testing, even if conducted properly, may fail to reveal all risks, especially of delayed side effects. And manufacturing defects, in which an approved and otherwise safe drug is rendered unsafe by a problem in the manufacturing process, may occur and cause patient injury.
Liable Parties in Drug Injury Claims
Generally, either the drug’s manufacturer, the prescribing physician, or the pharmacist can be held accountable in a pharmaceutical injury case. Drug manufacturers can be held responsible when drugs have dangerous defects due to inadequate testing and research, or if the company attempts to conceal information about potential side effects or other dangers. Drug companies may also be liable if the warning labels on the drugs are inadequate and fail to disclose pertinent information.
Physicians may be liable for injuries caused by drugs if they improperly prescribe medications. Patients are required to give their informed consent to medical procedures, including the administration of drugs, so if doctors fail to fully inform patients of the anticipated efficacy and potential side effects of a medication, they may be liable for resultant illnesses or injuries.
Pharmacists may be held responsible if they are negligent in providing drugs to patients. They may fill a prescription with the wrong dosage or even the wrong medication altogether or may commit other negligent acts that result in patients taking the wrong drugs or not getting the medicine they need.
Common Drug Defects
There are three main types of flaw in a defective drug:
- Inherently defective drugs with dangerous side effects;
- Defective manufacturing; and
- Inappropriate marketing or warning labels.
When a drug is defective, the victim can recover damages under a legal theory called strict liability. He or she must show that the drug was unreasonably dangerous, and that the harm the victim suffered was caused by the drug.
Dangerous Drug Side Effects
When administered incorrectly, any drug can have serious side effects. But some drugs have a flawed design and are dangerous even when properly administered in accordance with a doctor’s recommendation.
Drugs whose serious side effects are frequently litigated include, among others:
- Byetta and Januvia;
- GranuFlo and NaturaLyte;
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs;
Even if a drug is designed and tested correctly, it may become tainted in the manufacturing process. Contamination of medication can cause serious injury and illness. Other errors may also occur during manufacturing, shipping, or labeling.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers must disclose a drug’s potential side effects on the label. Doctors must have this information so that they can decide whether to prescribe a medication. Warning labels are also necessary for physicians to be able to disclose risks and other information to the patient, so that the patient can make an informed decision about whether to take the medication.
Additionally, drugs may be advertised for off-label uses for which they have not been tested or approved. This can cause serious health problems for patients.
If a drug is dangerous, a drug recall may be necessary to take it off the market. The pharmaceutical company may initiate the recall, informing the public of the danger and providing refunds or replacements. Additionally, the FDA can warn the public and recommend that it be taken off the market, or may order the drug to be recalled.
Typically, however, the FDA will only investigate a drug after receiving many complaints about side effects or risks. This means that it will only be recalled after numerous patients have already come to harm because of a dangerous defect.
Drug companies are not the only potential parties at fault in a drug injury, however. Hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors are sometimes negligent in prescribing drugs, by:
- Failing to inform patients of potential side effects or drug interactions;
- Failing to monitor a patient’s reaction to a medication;
- Neglecting to find out whether the patient has a preexisting condition or allergy that could cause complications;
- Ignoring manufacturer labels and instructions regarding risks and side effects;
- Failing to give patients full and correct instructions; or
- Prescribing the wrong medication or wrong dosage.
Further, a negligent pharmacist may:
- Mislabel prescription bottles;
- Give patients medication meant for another person;
- Fill the wrong medication;
- Incorrectly record patient information; or
- Fail to update patient records to reflect a changed condition.
Common Injuries in Drug Injury Claims
Undisclosed side effects can be extremely dangerous, and drug interactions or allergic reactions can cause severe harm. Common injuries and illnesses resulting from the misuse of pharmaceuticals include:
- Organ failure;
- Liver damage;
- Allergic reactions;
- Blood clots and heart attacks;
- High or low blood pressure;
- Birth defects or miscarriages;
- Psychiatric problems;
Some injuries are evident immediately, but others take months or years to manifest themselves
Can make it harder to attribute the injury to the drug, which can make treatment of the new condition much more difficult
What Can Be Recovered in a Drug Injury Case
Victims of drug injuries in South Carolina can recover damages including:
- Medical expenses for treating the illness or injury arising out of the use of the defective product;
- Rehabilitative and therapy costs;
- Loss of income or earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering;
- Physical impairment;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Funeral expenses, in the event of a wrongful death.
If you have been injured by a defective drug or instance of pharmaceutical negligence, please contact an experienced drug injury lawyer at the Joye Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation.