In today’s world, new pharmaceutical advancements seem to emerge on almost a daily basis. While these wonder drugs can seem promising, all too often they end up inflicting harm and cause serious, life-threatening health problems and even death in some instances.
If you or someone in your family has been harmed by a drug injury in South Carolina, let our South Carolina drug injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm help you. Our experienced and dedicated South Carolina drug injury attorneys can help you get legal justice for the wrong done to you or your loved one by a medication.
When Medicine Causes Problems Instead of Fixing Them
New prescription medications are supposed to undergo extensive testing to make sure they are safe, effective and do not pose unreasonable side effects that could put patients at risk. Unfortunately, many dangerous prescription drugs have made it onto the market and into patients’ medicine cabinets over the years. And the problem continues today.
Pharmaceutical companies stand to make millions or even billions of dollars on successful new drugs. It is in their interest to secure approval for new medications from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA leaves it up to the drug companies to test new medications, opening the door to potential problems.
Tests may be flawed because the pharmaceutical company uses a study sample that is too small or a study period that is too short, for example. Pharmaceutical companies may also fail to report adverse findings to the FDA or downplay data that don’t support the drug’s efficacy and safety.
Serious side effects and other problems with prescription medications frequently do not become apparent until the product is on the market and patients begin to suffer negative consequences. In some cases, drug companies have marketed their products for “off label” purposes – in other words, to treat conditions that the drug was never approved to treat. This can cause serious health problems for the patients who take the medication.
Common Adverse Effects of Bad Prescription Drugs
Sadly, millions of Americans visit the emergency room each year because of the adverse side effects of prescription drugs. What is worse is that additional millions of individuals suffer drug injuries caused by a prescription drug while in the hospital or health care setting, and while under the watchful eye of medical professionals. While the FDA is only supposed to approve drugs that have more benefits than dangers associated with them, once the drug is on the market, surveillance of it goes to MedWatch, a voluntary program that gives health care providers the choice of whether or not to report adverse side effects they see in their patients. As you can imagine, this is the perfect recipe for disaster.
Some common side effects of bad prescription drugs include:
- Gastrointestinal issues;
- Pain; and
- Skin issues, such as rash.
Some drugs cause very dangerous and oftentimes life-threatening side effects. However, even these drugs are not pulled from the shelves when the FDA learns of their danger; instead, the FDA may add warnings to the drug’s label. In very rare instances will a drug be pulled from the shelves because of an adverse effect.
Some of the more serious side effects that arise from bad prescription drugs include:
- Physical debilitation;
- Heart conditions;
- Stroke; and
People who have been harmed by dangerous drugs – or the relatives of patients who have died from taking a dangerous medication – may be entitled to compensation from the pharmaceutical company that developed, manufactured and marketed the medication.
Manufacturer’s Duties Under Product Liability
Unfortunately, individuals are injured far too often by commonly prescribed medications. Oftentimes, the side effects of the drugs are much more severe and debilitating than the actual condition for which the drug was prescribed. Luckily, the law is on the consumer’s side. Drug manufacturers and medical device manufacturers have a duty of care to consumers, which is to ensure that their product is safe for consumer use and consumption. If a drug or medical device manufacturer should produce and release a product that is unsafe for consumers, they could be held liable for damages sustained thanks to product liability law.
While product liability law is on the consumer’s side, it is and has been unclear as to what extent a consumer can sue a drug manufacturer for producing and releasing a defective product. At the very least, a manufacturer – of any product, and not just prescription drugs – is liable for foreseeable injuries caused by negligence. Or, in other words, they are required to test a product and only release it to the public when it is, to the best of the manufacturer’s knowledge, safe and free from defect. In addition, if any known defects or safety hazards do exist, they are required to warn the public of said dangers on the box, label, or via some other means that the consumer is sure to see. Finally, drug makers and manufacturers are required to continually test their products even after they have been released. Failure to perform any of the aforementioned duties leaves them vulnerable to a product liability lawsuit.
Product Liability Claims
When an individual has been injured by a prescription drug in South Carolina, they have the right to pursue a product liability claim. Product liability is the legal term for the responsibility that manufacturers, distributors, and sellers have to consumers to foresee any potential risks that are associated with their products, eliminate those risks or provide adequate warning regarding those risks, and deliver products that are free of defects. Unfortunately, because everyone reacts differently to different medications, it can be difficult for a drug manufacturing company to foresee every potential danger. Because of this, dangerous drugs and faulty medical equipment account for a majority of product liability claims across the globe.
Typically, a product liability claim will fall under one of the following three categories:
- Design Defects: A product liability claim may arise when the design of the product is inherently dangerous, and its dangers are clearly foreseeable. In these instances, the manufacturer can avoid future product liability claims by altering the design to make it safer and less likely to cause injury.
- Marketing Defects: Oftentimes, a product liability lawsuit will arise because of the manufacturer’s failure to provide the consumer with adequate instructions on how to use the product, or to provide sufficient warnings regarding the hazards of the product. For instance, if a manufacturer creates a blood pressure medication that cannot be taken with a particular heart medication, but they fail to include this on the warning label, and a consumer suffers a heart attack because they mixed the two medications, then the manufacturer will be held liable for failing to warn consumers about the foreseeable and easily avoidable risk.
- Manufacturing Defects: Product liability claims also arise when a mistake occurs in the actual manufacturing process, i.e. one ingredient was accidently put into the chemical mixture instead of another, correct ingredient. This mix up could lead to a potentially very dangerous defect in the drug’s design that the manufacturer cannot possibly know anything about.
If a product has any of these defects, and whether or not the manufacturer is aware of them, consumers have a right to sue the manufacturer for product liability should injuries result from the product’s use.
How to Hold the Drug Companies Accountable
It is extremely difficult to hold a drug company accountable for adverse side effects, as most drug manufacturers cover their bases by including a laundry list of side effects in the drug information packet, on the box, or in their marketing materials. Furthermore, drug manufacturers anticipate that at least a few individuals are going to have an adverse reaction to their product, which is why they prepare viable defenses to product liability claims before they even release the drug.
With those points in mind, filing and winning a product liability claim against a drug manufacturing company is not something that you should even attempt to do alone. If you believe that you have a product liability claim, the best way to hold the drug company accountable for the damages they caused is to hire an experienced South Carolina drug injury attorney to fight on your behalf.
Free Initial Consultation for Victims of Dangerous Drugs
At Joye Law Firm, we are dedicated to our clients and our community. When you’ve been seriously injured by a defective product or a prescription drug, you can trust our South Carolina drug injury attorneys to treat you with respect and get the compensation you deserve. Just Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or fill out a free online consultation form and talk to our South Carolina personal injury lawyers today.
Our offices are located in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Clinton, but we represent clients throughout South Carolina.