Many product liability claims are against prescribed pharmaceuticals that injure patients allege side effects unreasonably dangerous or of which the manufacturer, pharmacist, or prescribing physician failed to warn. The antidepressant drugs Prozac and Zoloft have been infamous targets of pharmaceutical product liability litigation. Many prescription drugs, however, are notorious for serious risks, and, if doctors advise their patients about them and the patients decide nevertheless to assume the risks, they will have no valid, enforceable legal claim even if they suffer serious harm as a result of their decision.
For any injury by a pharmaceutical drug there may be a defective product claim similar to other such claims with some special features. There are three categories of pharmaceutical product liability claims:
Claims for defective manufacture,
Claims for unreasonably dangerous side effects, and
Claims for improper marketing.
In the first category, the defect may be the result of negligence or other error at the factory that made or the pharmacy that dispensed the drug or a problem in shipment or labeling, any mistake at any point between where the drug originates the where the patient receives it.
The second category of claims involves pharmaceutical drugs with harmful side effects, sometimes drugs on the market for long periods time before discovery of their risks. In some cases, plaintiffs allege manufacturer knowledge and deliberate concealment of the risks. If they prove such allegations of egregious misconduct, they may win awards of punitive as well as compensatory damages.
Claims of improper marketing of pharmaceutical drugs concern the directions, instructions, or recommendations for use and the warnings about any dangers of the drug. In this category are allegations of injuries from failures to warn adequately or accurately about dangerous side effects or failures to instruct properly about safe and correct use. A manufacturer, physician, pharmacy, or another medical provider may be responsible for such alleged omission or misinformation.
Defective pharmaceutical product lawsuits may combine multiple claims. A claim of unreasonably dangerous side effects may combine with one for failure to warn about them. Each claim may be against a different defendant.
To include all defendants in a pharmaceutical product liability lawsuit, consider everyone in the path of distribution the drug takes from its origin to the patient:
The Manufacturer – Most prescription drug producers are enormous commercial concerns befitting their huge market and the immense technological facilities they need to develop new drugs. They have the deep pockets for full and fair compensation for injuries though they also retain teams of premium-priced lawyers to defend them against such claims. The Testing Laboratory – The dangerous drug may have had faulty testing before reaching the market, and such testing laboratories are frequent defendants especially if independent of the manufacturers. The Pharmaceutical Salesman – Pharmaceutical producers often retain independent sales representatives to promote and sell new drugs and to suggest to health care providers selling points on their benefits. Such salesmen also may be liable for recommending a drug that injures patients. The Physician – The physician who prescribes a dangerous drug that causes injury also may be liable as part of the path of distribution of the injurious drug and for failure to warn patients about harmful side effects or to instruct them on safe and proper use of it. The Hospital or Clinic – Any hospital or clinic administering a drug becomes part of its path of distribution from manufacturer to patient and may be liable for the patient’s injuries. The Pharmacy – Drug stores are often end points in the path of distribution from drug manufacturer to patient. A pharmacist’s advice on use of the drug may be an additional ground for liability.
In any legal action against a doctor or a hospital for an injury caused by a drug, there may be claims for both medical malpractice and defective pharmaceutical product liability. There is no need to choose between claims. Plaintiffs may allege all claims which the facts alleged would support when proven. *
Proof of Facts
The pharmaceutical product liability plaintiff must prove three factual elements of the claim:
Defective production or improper marketing of a dangerous drug
The defect or improper marketing as the cause of the injury
How Much Time to Sue?
This important question is a matter of state law. Every state has a statute of limitations on pharmaceutical product liability claims. A consultation with a personal injury attorney experienced in pharmaceutical product liability practice is the foolproof way to be sure to act in time.
Class Action Lawsuits
Commonly prescribed dangerous drugs sometimes injure many people similarly. In such cases, injured claimants may be able to join together in class action lawsuits.
If a class action is already underway against a dangerous drug, new plaintiffs may be able to join and reap several advantages:
Representation by lawyers with experience and expertise in big multi-claimant cases against big corporate defendants
Little or no upfront cost
No personal need to study and comprehend complex legal issues
There is no obligation to join an ongoing class action. Every claimant may file suit as an individual plaintiff instead, and this course may be preferable for injuries substantially different from those of most of the class action plaintiffs or for cases involving specially distinguishing circumstances.
Consult a personal injury attorney to find out whether any class action concerns the drug suspected of causing injury and whether it would be worthwhile to join. A potential plaintiff who knows of such a class action might contact the class attorneys directly; they are always interested in enlarging the class. Such initial consultations are usually free.
In Any Event, Consult a Pharmaceutical Product Liability Attorney
Prescription drugs are figuratively double-edged swords, highly beneficial for treatment of medical problems yet seriously harmful to patients susceptible to injury from their side effects and sometimes dangerous generally when manufacturers cut safety corners to rush them onto the market without sufficient testing for precautions to prevent unnecessary risks. For any illness or injury caused by any type of prescription medication, the experienced pharmaceutical litigation team of attorneys at The Doan Law Firm (Doan) can help.
Doan specializes in cases nationwide of injuries caused by prescription medication. The Doan attorney team has a track record of positive //results recovering millions of dollars in damages for injured clients. Doan clients receive the services of legal and engineering experts dedicated to achieving the best //results possible for them.
Doan attorneys work for contingency fees. The contingent part of every Doan client’s legal fee agreement is that there is no legal fee at all unless and until the client receives from a settlement or an award of damages money to pay it. The fee is a proportion, usually a third, of the total recovery less necessary costs. If the case turns out to be a loser and there is no recovery, the client owes nothing, and Doan bears the entire loss.
There never was and it is impossible to imagine that there ever will be a better no-risk investment financially than the contingency fee agreement. The contingent fee has been a great equalizer between wealthy parties and those of modest means, who otherwise could not afford the costs of litigation to enforce their claims for compensation.
Should a pharmaceutical product liability plaintiff be assisted and represented by a personal injury attorney experienced in that practice? The answer is yes in all cases, no exceptions. There is no substitute for the advice and advocacy of an attorney for plaintiffs confronting powerful, resourceful opponents like pharmaceutical manufacturers. Find out more about how Doan can help recover full and fair compensation for all costs and injuries in pharmaceutical cases. Call us at (800) 349-0000 today for a free case consultation at no obligation.
* “A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief,” Rule 8(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.