The Dangerous Side Effects of Medication — Who Can be Held Liable?

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If you take a drug, you likely deal with a small list of side effects, most of them minor and non-life-threatening. You may be drowsy, suffer from dry mouth, have dizziness, or deal with nausea. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky. Some may develop severe adverse drug reactions that could lead to long-term disability or even death. In fact, according to Harvard’s 2014 article “New Prescription Drugs: A Major Health Risk With Few Offsetting Advantages,” about 20% of prescription drug users suffer from serious adverse reactions from newly approved prescription drugs.

Furthermore, properly described drugs (aside from those misprescribed, self-prescribed, or abused) have sent 1.9 people to the hospital, and 840,000 out of those hospitalized patients have suffered serious reactions from hospital-distributed drugs. As far as fatalities go, 128,000 people die from prescribed prescription drugs.

In other words, prescription drugs are considered a major health risk to many people.

If you’re one of the many victims of serious side effects from prescription medication, know that you have options to receive compensation for this suffering. For instance, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug you’re using. Sometimes drugs may be approved when they shouldn’t be (the controversy surrounding the new Alzheimer’s drug, for example), and even though these medications are approved, the manufacturer wouldn’t be immune to a lawsuit.

Types of serious side effects

These are just some of the severe side effects that can occur with prescription medication:

  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Birth defects
  • Brain and nervous system damages
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Kidney failure
  • Anticholinergic reactions
  • Carcinogenic reactions
  • Suicide or attempted suicide
  • Internal bleeding
  • Cancer

What parties can you hold liable for these adverse reactions?

You can hold various parties responsible for your suffering, but whether you can hold them liable depends on certain factors. This occurrence, which falls under product liability, all boils down to this question:

“Were you aware of the medication’s potential side effects?”

You could have a valid claim if you’ve not been notified by anyone in this process or if the manufacturer neglected to test the medication adequately. Below are some instances that could constitute a claim against a party.

Your physician. Your physician might give you medication samples and fail to warn you of potential side effects the drugs would cause. Furthermore, the physician may also misprescribe you medication.

Finally, your physician may prescribe medication that isn’t approved for your condition. These are known as “off-label” uses.  A couple of examples include Prazosin, designed to treat hypertension but is also used for PTSD and PTSD-associated nightmares, and Modafinil, a prescription drug to treat sleep disorders but can also alleviate depression symptoms.

This can open up a new slew of issues because these off-label uses weren’t approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

In any of the above cases, the responsibility any suffering caused by the prescription drugs would fall on the physician.

The pharmacy. Let’s say your physician prescribed medication, entrusting your local pharmacy to discuss side effects either verbally or via pamphlet. However, when you pick up your medication, you may not have been informed by the pharmacy or the medication document. In this case, both the pharmacy and your physician would be held responsible.

The manufacturer. As mentioned previously, sometimes medication that should not be released due to defects receives FDA approval. Even when non-defective medication is approved and used, sometimes the side effects outweigh the positive effects.

The medicine testing laboratory. All prescription drugs go through a testing process to ensure they are safe. However, if the testing laboratory approves a defective medicine, then they are subject to a product liability case.

Can you sue the FDA?

If the FDA allows a defective and dangerous drug on the market, you might be wondering if you’d be able to sue this government body. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to file a claim against them, as the FDA is protected via “sovereign immunity.”

Under sovereign immunity, any federal government entity is immune from lawsuits except if said entity has accepted the lawsuit or has its immunity waived. While there are only a couple of conditions that would waive the immunity, those conditions are littered with exceptions that would render lawsuits against the FDA ineffective.

Which medications are subject to lawsuits?

There are quite a few defective medications out in the market that you could hold the manufacturer accountable for if you suffer from their serious side effects. Here are just a few notable ones:

  • Abilify
  • Accutane
  • Cymbalta
  • Lipitor
  • Opioids
  • Paxil
  • Risperdal
  • Rogaine
  • Yasmin
  • Zoloft

Consult a personal injury attorney to learn more

While many prescription medications positively impact most people in the US, there are many people who suffer from severe side effects caused by those same medications, some of which can cause lifelong damage or even death.

If you’ve taken prescription medication that has seriously harmed you, know that you have options to hold various parties accountable. However, it can be incredibly difficult to prove that the prescribed medication has caused you pain and suffering.

A personal injury attorney will be able to help you find the proof needed to win your case. They will go above and beyond by gathering necessary evidence, document various accounts, and try to settle out of court, all so that you’ll receive your deserved compensation for damages, including medical bills, rehabilitation, therapy, lost wages, time off or job loss, and loss of quality of life.