Patients who take prescription and over-the-counter drugs have a reasonable expectation that the drugs will be safe, effective, and free from unreported side effects. But unfortunately, poor testing, the rush to take a drug to market, or other factors can lead to unsafe drugs. These drugs can cause major health problems, life-altering side effects, and even death.
Whether it’s a product of shoddy testing or undisclosed risks, companies that put unsafe drugs on the market should be held accountable for their actions. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have the trial experience and legal expertise you need to take on a major pharmaceutical company. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today. You deserve compensation for your injuries, and we will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that you get it.
What Makes a Drug Unsafe?
Unsafe pharmaceuticals fall under the umbrella of product liability. Product liability, in essence, means that consumers are entitled to products that work the way they are intended to and do not cause unnecessary harm. Under product liability law, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers are held accountable for putting a defective product into the hands of consumers.
MDL participated on a mass tort action against a drug manufacturer. A middle-aged school teacher was taking the medication prescribed by her physician as a cholesterol-lowering drug. The manufacturer was criticized for allowing patients to continue using the cholesterol drug for such an extended amount of time despite the increased risk of fatality due to the condition rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue causing renal failure and liver damage. The school teacher was hospitalized and was only able to return to teaching after six months recuperation. Her case settled for $325,000.
Product liability cases generally fall into one of three categories:
- Design defects: flaws in the intentional design of a product
- Manufacturing defects: failure of a manufacturer to properly assemble the product according to the design, which results in an unsafe final product
- Marketing defects: failure to provide adequate instructions or failure to warn consumers of known hazards
Pharmaceutical cases differ somewhat from typical product liability cases. When dealing with prescription or over-the-counter drugs, “design defects” typically refer to the pharmaceutical company that developed and tested the drug. If the drug produces dangerous side effects (such as a stroke or heart attack) that the company failed to notice during testing, the company could be liable for injuries sustained as a result of the side effects. If the company noticed the dangerous side effects during testing and concealed it (and the consumers can prove it), they could even be subject to punitive damages.
Manufacturing defects in pharmaceuticals refer to drugs that were improperly made or tainted at some point along the manufacturing or distribution chain. These defects can include an error at the factory, a mistake during shipping or distribution, an error in the pharmacy where the drug is bottled, or any other error that occurs between the factory and your front door.
Marketing defects involve the instructions, recommendations, and warning on the drug’s label. Pharmaceutical companies are required to include adequate warnings about side effects and adequate instructions for safe use of the medication; failure to do so can lead to misuse and dangerous medical problems, as well as open up the company to liability for injuries.
Drug manufacturers, pharmacists, and doctors have a responsibility to ensure that the drugs they prescribe their patients do not cause harm.
How Do Unsafe Drugs Make It To Market?
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs sold in the United States go through medical trials and approval by the Food and Drug Administration. However, with billions of prescriptions filled each year, some drugs do not undergo the thorough testing or careful labeling that they should. Serious health problems can arise when drugs are not tested strenuously enough, and shoddy testing can lead to unexpected (or more frequent than expected) side effects once the drug is on the market.
Problems also arise when patients mix certain medications. The Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers not to buy drugs online because such vendors might not be licensed and drugs might not be properly dosed or labeled.
There are a number of parties involved in the chain of distribution for a drug, including:
- Drug manufacturers
- Testing laboratories
- Pharmaceutical sales representatives
- Hospitals and clinics
Depending on your specific case and the medication involved, different parties can be held liable for your injuries. Contacting an experienced product liability lawyer is the best way to identify possible defendants and decide the best route for your claim.
When Should You File Suit?
In order to win a product liability case for unsafe pharmaceuticals, you must prove:
- You were injured
- The drug was defective (in design, manufacturing, or labeling), including unreasonable side effects that were not disclosed
- The defect or improper labeling was the proximate cause of your injury
When an unsafe drug is discovered, there is often a class action lawsuit involved. A class action lawsuit involves a large number of people with similar legal claims who join together to sue a company or organization. New pharmaceuticals are often prescribed to a large number of people, meaning a large number of people will be affected by dangerous side effects or mislabeling. Depending on your circumstances and injuries, you will have the option of joining the class action suit or filing your own individual lawsuit. (Filing your own lawsuit can be more beneficial if your injuries are different from the injuries of other people in the suit or if there are other differentiating circumstances in your case.)
There is a two-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases in New Jersey. Therefore, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim or you will forfeit your right to compensation.
However, unsafe drug cases do not always have a clear “date of injury.” Especially when dealing with unexpected side effects, the injury can take time to develop and take time to notice. In these cases, the statute of limitations period begins on the date that the patient discovered—or reasonably should have discovered—the basis for the claim.
Why Hire Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi?
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have a proven track record of fighting for clients, both in and out of court. Our experienced attorneys participated in a mass tort action against a drug manufacturer that contributed to the condition rhabdomyolysis and won $325,000 for a school teacher who was hospitalized after using the drug for an extended period of time.
Our trial attorneys have achieved numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Our legal team has more than 30 years of experience and we know how to fight the pharmaceutical giants. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi will ensure that your case is rock-solid and trial-ready, giving you the best chance of success. You deserve aggressive and effective representation in your fight against drug manufacturers—call (201) 585-9111 or fill out an online inquiry to schedule your free and confidential consultation.