When Are Pharmaceutical Companies Liable?

Almost 60 percent of the United States takes prescription drugs, while 81 percent take over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. These Americans spend about $251.73 billion dollars a year on these products. Drugs, prescription and otherwise, is an enormous industry affecting millions of people. Because these pharmaceuticals affect such a large portion of the population, including the more vulnerable members of society (infants and the elderly), it is essential that pharmaceutical companies take every precaution to ensure that the drugs they distribute are safe. While they are held to that standard, there are also some situations in which pharmaceutical companies are not liable for any injury their drug causes, such as the use of unavoidably unsafe products and time-lapse issues.

What Are Unavoidably Unsafe Products?

Unavoidably unsafe products are prescription drugs that must be used for treatments even though they have harmful side effects. A good example is cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug used to treat cancer. Depending on the dosage, cyclophosphamide can have severe side effects, such as low blood count, hair loss, nausea, loss of fertility, and potentially leukemia. While these effects seem terrible, a doctor may still recommend the use of such a drug to treat cancer.

What Are Time-Lapse Issues?

If someone was injured by a drug many years ago, the person might not be able to identify the exact drug or exact drug distributor that caused the problem. In cases like these, it is difficult to prove the connection between the injury experienced by the drug user and the company who distributed the drug. Pharmaceutical products that cause developmental defects in a fetus, for example, may not be apparent until the child has grown.

Duty to Warm

Because their products can have such adverse effects on millions of people, drug companies have a duty to warn people of the side effects they can expect when using a drug. A typical bottle of pain relief medication will list side effects and warnings on the label. If a pharmaceutical company fails to list a symptom on the product, no matter how rare the symptom is, they are liable for the effects it has on the user.

If you’ve been injured as a result of a drug, or you know someone who has, contact us at (866) 884-1717 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.