Your Charleston Prescription Drug Attorney
If you have been injured by a pharmaceutical drug you used, you may have a defective products claim. Pharmaceutical-drug-based product liability claims are similar to other defective product claims, but pharmaceutical-related injury claims have a number of special features.
Products Liability and Prescription Drugs
Product liability is a type of personal injury case that arises when a consumer is injured by a defective or dangerous product. These products can include items that are ingested, such as food items or prescription drugs. In general, product liability is considered a strict liability type of tort case. This means that the manufacturers of the drugs are liable for any defect in the drug, causing injury to the consumer, whether the maker was negligent or not.
Proving Your Claim
You will have to prove three things in order to win your lawsuit:
- You were injured
- The drug was defective or improperly marketed (including having unreasonably dangerous side effects that you were not warned about), and
- The defect or improper marketing was the cause of your injury.
Class Action Lawsuits
If you have been injured by a commonly prescribed drug, you may be only one of a large number of people who have been similarly injured. In such cases, you may be able to band together and file a class action lawsuit.
In some cases, a class action may already have been filed in connection with the drug that injured you, and you may have the option of joining that already-existing lawsuit.
Prescription Drugs and Risk
To live healthy and productive lives, many people depend on the benefits of medications – both prescription and over the counter. You carefully follow your doctor’s medical advice with the belief that it is offered in good faith and will improve your health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical devices can be more harmful than they are helpful. And as a healthcare consumer, you may not even be aware of the dangers inherent to your medical treatment.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must test and approve any medication or medical device that is made available to the public, and the FDA monitors the safety of these products after they become available to consumers. Even with this rigorous process, medications and medical devices that cause serious injury continue to reach the healthcare market. In fact, once the FDA allows a drug’s passage, the drug usually won’t be recalled until it’s been proven to have caused significant damage to consumers.
Further, the FDA doesn’t recall all drugs that are linked to serious side effects and injury. Instead, the FDA states that drug manufacturers and the drug-distribution chain are responsible for managing drug quality and safety risks. This hands-off approach means that it’s often left to patients who have experienced injurious side-effects first hand to hold big drug companies accountable through the roundabout process of pharmaceutical litigation.
Prescription Drug Defects and Dangers
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs and medical devices generally lead to prescription drug legal claims in three distinct categories:
- The drug is fundamentally dangerous or defective.
Not all medications and medical devices are created equal. Some are born of flawed design, which can lead directly to subsequent injury. The manufacturer may be aware of the product’s flawed origins to begin with, or they may learn about them after the product is marketed and as further evidence becomes available.
- The drug’s manufacture is defective
Some drugs are well designed and beneficial, but they can become tainted, damaged, and/or dangerous during the manufacturing, shipping, labeling, and/or dispensing process.
- The drug is labeled inappropriately
No matter what a drug’s benefits, if its manufacturer fails to provide and affix the appropriate and necessary label warnings, instructions, intended usage, and/or recommendations, it can lead to serious injury.
Whether the manufacturer is aware of these areas of defect or not, you – as an injured consumer – have the right to bring claim for product liability regarding any damage you sustain from these forms of defective medications or medical devices.
The Medical Market
The fact remains that dangerous drugs and defective medical devices remain on the market and are still available for consumer purchase and use. Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of turning large profits in return for their investment in medical research and development. Healthcare consumers, however, can end up bearing the overwhelming cost of the injury and expense incurred when these products prove to be harmful.
Product Liability Claim
If you’ve suffered damages from a prescription or over-the-counter medication or medical device in South Carolina, it’s your right to pursue a product liability claim. Product liability refers to the responsibility that manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers of medications owe their consumers. This includes the responsibility to reasonably anticipate potential risks associated with their products, to eliminate or provide adequate warnings for those foreseeable risks, and to deliver products that are free from defect. Naturally, this is not a foolproof process; it can be nearly impossible to anticipate every potential danger that might be associated with a medication or medical device. In fact, the clear majority of product liability claims stem from prescription medication and medical device claims.
Every product liability case involving pharmaceuticals is unique, and it’s important that you carefully and appropriately identify all potential defendants in your claim. This includes identifying the chain of distribution of the medication or medical device in question. This chain refers to the path that a product follows from its inception to its intended consumer:
- The pharmaceutical manufacturer is usually a large company that does the heavy lifting regarding research, development, manufacture, and distribution of new drugs. These companies, however, are notoriously proactive in terms of aggressively defending against product liability claims.
- Testing laboratories also play a role in drug safety – most drugs process through an elaborate maze of tests before they arrive on the market. Such a laboratory – especially if it is independent of the drug manufacturer – might be a viable defendant in your complaint.
- Pharmaceutical sales representatives are often employed by drug manufacturers to meet with medical prescribers and to market that manufacturer’s medications by touting their advantages and making drug-usage recommendations. Such sales representatives might be indicated in your claim if they played a significant role in recommending the injurious drug in question.
- Your prescribing doctor, as an important link in the drug’s chain of distribution, might also be liable in your claim – especially if your doctor failed to provide adequate instruction or to warn you about the drug’s potentially dangerous side effects.
- The hospital or clinic where you were treated, because it is another link in that chain, might also bear liability.
- The prescription-filling pharmacy is usually the final link in the distribution chain before your medication reaches you, and your pharmacist’s counseling regarding your prescription might share liability in your prescription drug claim.
Bringing a prescription drug claim is obviously a complicated legal process that demands careful attention to the details and legal ramifications of your individual case. It’s never a good idea to attempt this process on your own. If you or someone you care about has suffered the negative side effects of a medication or medical device, retain experienced legal counsel with expertise in defective products cases that focus on medications. The Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. has the skill, experience, and expertise to guide your case toward its most favorable outcome. We care about your prescription drug case, and we can help – give us a call.
If you or someone you know has been injured by a prescription drug, you may be entitled to recover damages. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. For these reasons and more it is critical to consult with an experienced attorney.
At Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C., we have experience working in the prescription drug area. We can put our skill and experience to work for you in your prescription drug case. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 843-300-7600 or use our online form.