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Pharmaceutical Drug Liability FAQ

People file a product liability claim when they're hurt using a dangerous or defective product. Many product liability lawsuits involve pharmaceuticals. Drug manufacturers must appropriately test the drugs and medicines before releasing them. They must also get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they sell a new drug.

Unfortunately, there are times when a drug maker only learns about the severe side effects and risks of a drug much later. In some instances, the drug company only submits favorable clinical trial results to the FDA. When this happens, people get hurt.

In this article, we'll discuss how drug liability cases work. We will also explain what your legal options are.

What types of drugs are subject to product liability litigation?

Millions of Americans take multiple prescription drugs. Some drugs address physical ailments and medical conditions, while other medications treat mental health disorders. Whatever medicine you are taking, there is always the chance that it could make you sick.

Some of the drugs that are the subject of a product liability lawsuit include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Blood thinners
  • Cholesterol medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • Mental health drugs
  • Chemotherapy drugs

If a drug is dangerous or has severe side effects, it has the potential to make somebody sick. If the drug company fails to warn patients of these dangers or side effects, they must be held accountable. The best way to make that happen is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drug manufacturer, distributor, pharmacy, or other supply chain member.

Can you sue your doctor over a dangerous medication?

Sometimes, the drug manufacturer did everything right, but your doctor failed to fulfill their duty. Before your healthcare provider prescribes a medication, they must take specific steps to ensure your safety.

Some of these critical steps include the following:

  • Advise you of the side effects and risks of the drug so you can make an informed decision
  • Check to make sure the medication doesn't interact adversely with other medications you're taking
  • Review your medical records to ensure you aren't allergic to the drug
  • Explain how to take the drug (dosage, number of times per day, etc.)

If your doctor fails to do these things and you become sick, you may have a medical malpractice claim. You can discuss this when you first meet with your attorney for legal advice.

What are unavoidably unsafe products?

Most drugs are safe if taken correctly. However, some prescription drugs are unavoidably unsafe, which means the manufacturer cannot make them completely safe regardless of how careful they are.

Unavoidably unsafe drugs may have potentially harmful side effects but may be beneficial nonetheless. If the manufacturer correctly prepares them and gives patients adequate warnings, they will likely avoid a successful product liability lawsuit.

What is a drug manufacturer's duty to warn?

A drug manufacturer must warn patients and physicians of a drug's adverse side effects. The manufacturer often discharges this duty by providing the necessary information to the patient's prescribing physician or the pharmacist.

The courts consider drug manufacturers experts in their field. Therefore, they have an ongoing duty to keep abreast of knowledge regarding their products. They must also take all reasonable steps to update medical professionals on their drugs' potential adverse effects.

There is no duty to warn of possible reactions in unusually susceptible consumers, but just because a reaction is rare does not mean the manufacturer has no obligation to warn.

Time Lapse Issues and Personal Injury Cases

In some drug-related injury cases, the plaintiff cannot identify the precise manufacturer or supplier of the defective product. If enough time has elapsed, the evidence may no longer be available. For example, in cases involving drugs taken during pregnancy, the plaintiff's damages may not become apparent until the child is grown.

Your product liability law attorney will still have to meet the statute of limitations filing deadline, regardless of how long it took for you to discover a problem. You must check your state's laws to see when the clock starts ticking. Most states don't start the clock until you find out or should've discovered your injury.

Determining Liability: Who Is Responsible?

As with almost all medical products, except over-the-counter drugs, there will usually be a learned intermediary between a drug's manufacturer and the ultimate user. Your product liability claim may name the pharmaceutical company and other third parties.

The good news is that an experienced product liability attorney who handles such cases knows who the potential defendants are. Some of the potential defendants in your dangerous drug lawsuit may include the following:

  • A doctor who prescribes a drug
  • The nurse who instructs the patient on the proper use
  • The pharmacist who fills the prescription

Often, the lines of liability are blurry, and an experienced product liability attorney can help a plaintiff determine who may be at fault for resulting injuries. Your attorney must identify all possible defendants in your initial complaint. It's important to get it right. The judge may not let you amend your complaint down the road.

Get a Review of Your Defective Product Injury Claim

Product liability actions are often quite complex. Establishing legal fault usually requires expert testimony. This is especially true in cases involving scientific or medical issues, such as a defective drug case.

There are also several theories under which a plaintiff might bring their claim. Conversely, the other party will raise several potential defenses that might defeat such a claim. Some of these defenses may include the following:

  • The defendant may argue that they did warn patients and healthcare providers of any known risks and side effects
  • The other party may claim that you didn't take the medication as instructed
  • The named defendant may argue that another party is liable
  • The drug maker may say that their pharmaceutical product had no defect
  • The defendant's attorney may argue that you didn't file your claim within the statute of limitations period

Your injury attorney must check the local and state laws before they file your lawsuit against the drug company. Specifically, they must file your claim before the statute of limitations period expires. They must also abide by the local court rules and filing fees.

Consider getting a legal claim evaluation if you or a loved one suffers injury caused by a potentially defective product. Most product liability lawyers offer new clients a free case evaluation. This allows you to see if your product liability case is worth pursuing. It also helps your attorney determine the best approach to get you the compensation you deserve.

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