Dangerous Drugs Legal Information
 

OVERVIEW

Dangerous drug lawyers help people who have been seriously injured or killed because they used unsafe medications. Most often, they do this by filing dangerous drugs lawsuits against the manufacturer of the drug. Drug manufacturers, like all U.S. manufacturers, are strictly liable for the results when their products seriously hurt someone. Even if they did not intend to hurt patients or took reasonable care to avoid it, they are still legally liable for defective and unsafe medications.  An example of a dangerous drug that has caused serious harm to those taking it is the product GranuFlo. This product has caused death and heart attacks and you can learn more about GranuFlo side effects by clicking here.

Most of us do what our doctors suggest, because we trust that they wouldn’t prescribe anything that isn’t safe. By the same token, we trust that over-the-counter medications we can find in stores would not be sold if they weren’t safe. Doctors and pharmacists, in turn, rely on federal regulators, scientific researchers and drug companies to make sure that medications are safe to give their patients. Unfortunately, sometimes that system breaks down, and these drugs aren’t always worthy of our trust. When regulators, companies and scientists don’t notice or ignore dangerous results of their studies, patients who trusted them can die or become very sick. If this has happened to you, you should consider filing a dangerous drugs lawsuit.

 

“WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON DANGEROUS DRUGS?”

Because companies frequently offer new drugs for sale -- and because scientists are always studying them -- it’s difficult to make a comprehensive list of dangerous drugs. However, here are some of the prescription drugs with the most serious and wide-reaching problems that have been reported in the past few years:

  • Avandia and Actos are two similar prescription drugs meant to control Type II diabetes. They have not been recalled, but a study has discovered that they may raise patients’ chances of a heart attack by 30 to 40 percent. Together, Avandia and Actos have been prescribed to several million Americans.
  • Fosamax is prescribed to an estimated 20 million people each year for osteoporosis and advanced-stage cancer that has spread to the bones. A 2004 study linked it directly to osteonecrosis, or “dead jaw syndrome,” in which jaw tissue won’t heal. This leads to fractures, dead tissue that can rot in the body and dependence on antibiotics.
  • Lipitor is a cholesterol-lowering drug, part of a class of drugs called statins, with sales of $10 billion annually. Scientists believe it causes kidney failure leading to a disease called rhabdomyolysis, in which the body’s muscle tissue breaks down.
  • Ortho Evra is a birth control method that relies on a weekly patch rather than a daily pill. About two million women used it in 2004, a year in which an Associated Press report linked the patch directly to a dozen deaths from blood clots. That report found that the risk of death from Ortho Evra was three times higher than the risk posed  by conventional pills.
  • Paxil is a popular antidepressant used by millions of Americans. Studies in Europe have connected it with increased risk of suicidal behavior, especially in children and teens. Later studies found that taking Paxil while pregnant increases a mother’s risk of having a child with physically and mentally disabling heart defects.
  • Risperdal is normally prescribed to schizophrenics. However, a study of the drug’s effect on Alzheimer’s patients found that it substantially increased their risk of strokes, blood clots, hemorrhage and death.
  • Trasylol has been approved for stopping bleeding in heart surgery patients since 1993. Thirteen years later, in 2006, a study found that the drug actually doubles patients’ risk of heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack. Sales were suspended in November of 2007.
  • Vioxx (and related drugs, Celebrex and Bextra) was a pain reliever for arthritis prescribed to millions of Americans between 1999 and 2004. Studies in the early 2000s found that the drug increased patients’ risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death by as much as three times. It was withdrawn from the market in September of 2004 and remains mired in litigation.
  • Vytorin (and related drugs Zetia and Zocor) has been prescribed to about 18 million Americans each year to lower cholesterol. The drug has been targeted by lawsuits since January of 2008, Vytorin’s maker, Schering-Plough, released a two-year-old study showing the drug was no more effective than older, cheaper drugs at lowering cholesterol and heart attack risk. Patients believe they were misled and lied to by the manufacturer.
  • Zelnorm was approved in 2002 to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Since then, studies have linked the drug with an increased risk of heart attacks, angina, strokes and liver problems. It was pulled from the U.S. market in March of 2007.

 

“WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE AVAILABILITY OF DANGEROUS DRUGS?”

We get our drugs from doctors and pharmacies, but they’re just the last in a long line of supply. Unfortunately, the U.S. system for regulating drugs relies heavily on studies conducted by the drugs’ manufacturers themselves -- those who stand to profit from selling the drug. Manufacturers are legally obligated to conduct studies before a drug is approved. In some cases, manufacturers have either missed or ignored information about their drugs’ safety.

Once a manufacturer believes a drug is ready for approval, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must approve it. To do this, the FDA will conduct its own research -- but it relies heavily on the manufacturer and may not always follow through. The agency has come under fire in recent years for failing to guard Americans’ safety closely enough.

Both before and after FDA approval, medications are frequently also subject to independent studies by medical researchers. Like all scientists, doctors and pharmaceutical researchers rely on peer-reviewed studies to catch mistakes and misrepresentations by other scientists. Studies by peer reviewers in respected medical journals have been responsible for several prescription drug recalls in the last decade.

In a few cases, a doctor, pharmacist or other medical professional might carelessly give you medication that’s dangerous to you because of your age, health or other medications. In this situation, a lawsuit may be an appropriate response -- but it would probably not be a dangerous drugs lawsuit. Instead, you should talk to your dangerous drugs lawyer about a malpractice lawsuit.

 

“CAN OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS BE DANGEROUS?”

Over-the-counter drugs -- medications for which we don’t need prescriptions, like aspirin -- don’t get as much attention as billion-dollar prescription drugs. However, they can also be dangerous to consumers, and they can also be the subject of a dangerous drugs lawsuit. For example, in 2006 and 2007, two different contact lens solutions were recalled by their manufacturers because they caused types of keratisis, a serious eye infection that can lead to blindness if left untreated. Renu brand contact lens solution was contaminated with a fusarium fungus; Advanced Medical Optics solution was contaminated with an amoeba. Both manufacturers faced multiple lawsuits as a result.

More recently, the FDA issued a warning asking parents of children under age two to avoid using over-the-counter cold and cough medicines, because it was too easy to overdose very small children. Drug companies had already discontinued sales of infant medicines because they sometimes had serious, life-threatening side effects.

 

“WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FILING A DANGEROUS DRUGS LAWSUIT?”

A lawsuit holds careless drug manufacturers responsible for making and selling unsafe medications. It can publicize the problems with the drug, which can help prevent others from unknowingly exposing themselves to death or serious health problems. If a lawsuit is large and well-publicized enough, it can help take a dangerous drug off the market.

But more practically, a dangerous drugs lawsuit can also help victims win money they need to pay costs caused by the defective drug. Unexpected deaths and serious health problems cost money. They deprive families of an income or significantly lower that income. They cause hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions of dollars, in medical bills. In the case of a birth defect, this can follow victims throughout their lives, causing a lifetime of expensive medical care, surgeries or therapies. In a wrongful death, there can be expensive funeral costs. And of course, health problems caused by a dangerous drug can disable victims for life, dramatically lowering their quality of life. In a wrongful death, family members may lose a loved one far sooner than expected. A dangerous drug lawsuit seeks compensation for these and other losses that were directly caused by the unsafe medication.

 

“WHAT IS A DANGEROUS DRUGS CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT?”

A class-action lawsuit is a lawsuit filed by many people who have the same problem, caused by the same defendant. Because these plaintiffs are all similar, the law allows them to join forces in one large lawsuit, rather than many individual lawsuits. This makes the court process more efficient, allows them to share only a few dangerous drugs lawyers, and can also allow access to justice for plaintiffs whose claims would normally be too small to make a lawsuit worthwhile.

Dangerous drugs lawsuits lend themselves to class actions because most medications are distributed to thousands or millions of people around the country who have similar health problems. Because dangerous drug claims tend to be very, very serious, dangerous drugs class actions can be extremely large, with significant verdicts or settlements.

 

PAYMENT

Most dangerous drugs lawyers work on a contingency-fee arrangement. In this arrangement, you never pay your dangerous drugs lawyer at the beginning of the case. Instead, you will pay at the end -- if, and only if, you win the case. If you lose, the dangerous drugs lawyer gets nothing. If you win, the dangerous drugs lawyer will be paid with a percentage of your winnings, which should be specified in your contract. This arrangement allows the lawyer to work for everyone who has a good case -- not just those who can afford steep hourly legal fees. For the same reasons, dangerous drugs lawyers almost always offer free consultations to potential clients.

Under a contingency-fee arrangement, you may still be asked to pay court fees and administrative costs. Your dangerous drugs lawyer should tell you about this before you agree to hire him or her.