Nearly half of Americans have taken at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This doesn’t count the many over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and dietary supplements people take every day.
While the rise in prescription medication use can sound alarming, drugs are often an important solution for managing pain and combating illnesses. Unfortunately, not all medications end up helping patients. In some, rare cases, people can be injured by prescription drugs.
That said, no one should stop taking a drug without a doctor’s advice. Patients should speak with medical providers. The information provided here is for informational purposes only. It should not be relied upon by anyone. This is solely to provide general information about pharmaceutical/drug lawsuits.
What is the basis for lawsuits regarding drugs?
It is reasonable to assume a drug sold by a pharmaceutical company has been tested for safety and effectiveness. The scope of testing is sometimes an issue. Similarly, it is reasonable to assume potential risks associated with a drug have been disclosed in labeling or to doctors, but that is not always the case. Here are some of the other common issues raised in lawsuits against pharmaceutical drug companies.
Pharmaceutical companies will often try to market their medications as safe and effective ways to treat specific diseases. When a company is not entirely forthcoming with any possible side effects or gives inadequate information on how to use the medication correctly, this can be a basis for lawsuits. In court, marketing defects are often referred to as failure to warn claims.
Sometimes the design of a drug is defective. A defective drug can cause all types of unexpected side effects, including severe injury and death.
The defect can also occur at the manufacturing level. Even when the drug is designed to be safe and effective, a mishap during the making of the drug such as a contaminant can lead to severe side effects.
Who Can Be Held Responsible in Lawsuits?
Depending on the type of dangerous drug lawsuit you file, any number of parties can be held responsible.
Manufacturers are often the party held liable in lawsuits. The reason is that the manufacturer has the bulk of responsibility for creating a safe drug for consumers. Contamination or mishaps could result in life-altering consequences for those taking the drugs.
Doctors, nurses, and even pharmacists can also be held responsible in a dangerous drug lawsuit. They could be liable for a failure to warn if they did not inform the patient of potentially dangerous side effects.
A pharmacist may occasionally dispense the wrong medication or fail to inform a patient of dangerous interactions with other drugs. In the past, patients who abused prescription drugs were also able to file claims against pharmacists who dispensed the drugs.
Because the cases often include thousands of plaintiffs, courts will often consolidate them. This makes it easier to try cases and come to terms on a settlement.
Examples of Past Drug Lawsuit Settlements
Lawsuits can be long and complicated. It can take years for cases to go to trial — if they even make it at all.
When a defendant realizes that it makes the most financial sense to stop fighting the cases in court, it will often come to a settlement agreement with plaintiffs. The settlement amount depends on many different factors, but payouts can be massive.
One of the largest settlements in drug history came in 2015 when Takeda agreed to settle thousands of cases related to its Actos Type 2 diabetes drug to the tune of $2.4 billion. Before the settlement, Takeda was hit with a $9 billion verdict by a jury after a plaintiff claimed to have developed bladder cancer after taking the drug. Takeda was accused of hiding the risks.
In 2007, Merck agreed to pay more than $4 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits over claims its pain medication Vioxx caused heart attacks and strokes. Merck withdrew the medication three years earlier.
It is important to understand that just because there have been settlements or verdicts in the past, does not mean there will be similar ones in the future. Every litigation is different and every person’s case is different. No one can predict or guarantee an outcome in any particular case. You should not think that just because there have been positive results that your case has merit or you will receive compensation. It is important to speak with a lawyer about your specific case.
Current Investigations Regarding Prescription Drugs/Pharmaceutical Lawsuits
Here is a partial list of drugs KBA or other law firms are investigating:
- Tenofovir (Truvada)