Charles J Argento, Accident and Injury Attorney
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Do lawsuits prevail when prescription drugs fail?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2019 | blog

When a drug is defective and causes wide-spread damage, courts prefer a class-action lawsuit trial rather than trying the cases individually. Class action lawsuits are very effective and can represent millions of consumers. Big drug company lawsuits are a common feature in today’s media.

The pharmaceutical industry is developing new drugs and putting them on the market at a rapid pace. Some people feel that, instead of testing the drugs over a long period, drug companies want their profits now and medical patients become human beta-testers. 

Why are so many dangerous drugs on the market?

Big Pharma is well aware of the financial consequences of putting a new drug on the market when their trials show it may have dangerous side effects. Sometimes, test results may be neutral or appear promising, but a pattern of adverse reactions begins to manifest across patients who use a new drug. Ethical drug companies will either remove a dangerous drug voluntarily or drop their plans for production altogether. The sad fact is, however, that the pharmaceutical industry knows losing a class-action lawsuit is less painful than losing huge profits from selling a drug they know is dangerous and even potentially lethal.

For example, the antipsychotic drug Seroquel that pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca knew caused diabetes and weight-gain, lost a class-action lawsuit a decade ago. The lawsuit occurred because AstraZeneca aggressively marketed the drug for off-label use as a sleep aid for seniors and children, among others. The company knew the drug was dangerous, yet sold it anyway. They ended up with a total bill of $1.9 billion to settle the lawsuit. That staggering amount still represents far less than the $5.3 billion in annual sales AstraZeneca raked in. Seroquel is still being prescribed today, presumably only for use as an antipsychotic, but people are still suffering from the dangerous side effects. The FDA warns that Seroquel can be fatal when taken by seniors.

Who is liable for a patient damaged by a drug?

How do these medication assaults occur? A doctor may prescribe the wrong dose or a drug that could prove deadly when it interacts with other drugs he knows the patient takes. Many doctors recommend a drug to patients for a reason other than its legitimate use. A pharmacy can also be accountable for filling a new prescription when they should have spotted a harmful interaction with the patient’s other drugs. Simple human error such as a typo or loading the wrong drug into a pharmacy dispenser can cause disasters. Patients should examine the dose and pill description on every drug they take to make sure there is no mistake. They may need to research a drug’s contraindications which explain when a drug can be dangerous, such as during pregnancy or when taken in combination with other drugs. 

Each day, Americans suffer severe adverse consequences from medications prescribed to help them. Who should take responsibility for pharmaceutical medication damage to a patient? There are several points along the chain of liability and blame. A patient can easily be harmed by a medication error or by the false claims of a greedy pharmaceutical company. A person injured by a drug may want to seek professional help with a medical liability claim to recover compensation for the damage they have suffered.