Thousands of personal injury lawsuits involve pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. If a person suffers an injury from a dangerous drug or defective medical device, they can sue the manufacturer for damages.
Some people are surprised that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves dangerous drugs and faulty medical devices. The truth is that the FDA often approves drugs and medical devices for specific uses.
Other times, the FDA bases its decision on tests supplied by the manufacturer only to find out the manufacturer ran biased tests or didn't disclose those tests with unfavorable results.
Even if the FDA approves their product, drug and medical device manufacturers are still liable for injuries their products cause. Sometimes, after approving a drug or medical device, the FDA forces the manufacturer to recall their product or pull it off the shelves.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers continue to market and sell their defective products even though they know there is a risk of injury or harm. When this happens, you need a personal injury attorney specializing in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Types of Drug and Medical Device Cases Personal Injury Lawyers Handle
Product liability lawyers handle a variety of cases. Many cases involve consumer goods. However, a great many also involve dangerous drugs and defective medical devices. Any time a product hurts a consumer or patient, there is a chance of a lawsuit.
Recent litigation has centered on the following medical devices and related products:
- Talcum powder
- Hernia mesh
- Hip replacements
- Prescription drugs
Most plaintiffs hurt by these products sue either the pharmaceutical company or the medical device companies responsible for placing the dangerous item on the market.
When Are Drug and Medical Device Manufacturers Liable?
Almost all drugs have some adverse side effects. There's only so much a drug manufacturer can do to remove these unpleasant side effects. As long as they warn patients and healthcare providers of these side effects, they are operating within the law.
However, there are times when the courts hold a drugmaker liable for dangerous or severe side effects. Typically, manufacturers become responsible for injuries when the following conditions exist:
- Manufacturers do not make drugs/devices correctly. This includes every step of the process, from the factory floor to shipment.
- The drug company fails to warn patients about dangerous side effects.
- Companies market a drug improperly. Drug makers often market a single medication for multiple uses.
- A medical device suffers from design defects that cause harm even when patients use it as intended.
If these conditions apply to your case, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.
Who Else May Be Liable for a Defective Drug or Medical Device?
If a pharmaceutical or medical device injures you, your attorney may have to sue multiple parties. The drug or medical device manufacturer is generally named a defendant in a lawsuit. However, other parties in the supply chain may also be liable.
Your attorney will be able to help you narrow down the responsible party or parties, which may include:
- Sales representatives
- Physicians, hospitals, or clinics
Name all possible defendants in your initial complaint, as you may not be able to add them later.
Keeping Abreast of Drug and Medical Device Recalls, Warnings, and Lawsuits
If you take pharmaceutical drugs or use a medical device, stay up-to-date on recalls and safety alerts. One place you can find this information is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database of recalled products. You can also learn more at Findlaw.com's Your Right to Recall Remedies and Medical Product and Device Defects pages.
See FindLaw's Dangerous Drugs and Defective Medical Devices sections for information about specific products.
Important Terms Related to Your Drug or Medical Device Lawsuit
- Statute of Limitations: Every state limits your time to file a personal injury or product liability lawsuit. The clock typically starts on the date of your injury. Most jurisdictions will start tolling the statute once you discover the injury. If you miss the filing deadline, the court will dismiss your complaint.
- Unavoidably Unsafe Product: These products include drugs and medical devices that are inherently incapable of being safe for their intended and ordinary use.
- Drug Recall: A recall occurs when the FDA or product manufacturer asks consumers to return a defective or unsafe product.
- Lack of Sterility Assurance: A product lacks sterility assurance when the manufacturer cannot guarantee that a product doesn't contain viable microorganisms, viruses, fungi, and bacteria. An unsterile manufacturing environment can cause this.
- Potency: Potency refers to the strength of a drug. Pharmaceutical companies make drugs with a potency different from those indicated by the manufacturer. The potency can be higher or lower than what it says on the label. A potency variance poses a risk of harm to patients.
When you meet with your medical device attorney or wrongful death lawyer, they may use these terms to discuss your case.
Contact a Lawyer To Help Pursue Drug and Medical Device Injuries
It can be intimidating to sue a drug or medical device manufacturer. They are large companies with teams of lawyers at their beck and call. An experienced drug defect or medical device product liability attorney understands what is at stake. They also know how to maximize your compensation.
Visit FindLaw's directory of drug and medical device lawyers to find a qualified attorney near you and get a free case evaluation.