Prescription Drug Lawsuits: Settlements and Cases – Everything You Need to Know
Why we turn to medical assistance and don’t mind taking bitter pills and undergoing dreadful surgeries? Well, to live healthily, relieve pain and treat various medical conditions. In one sentence: because we all want to live a long and healthy life. But medical assistance doesn’t work every time as we expect it to. Some defective drugs, biologics, vaccines and medical devices can also lead to adverse health issues and death.
You might remember the famous VIOXX drug issue case when its users claimed to suffer a heart attack and stroke due to its usage. And Merck had to pay $4.85 billion to settle 50, 000 claims. Similarly, in 2015, Takeda paid $2.37 billion to settle 9, 000 lawsuits as claimants accused the drug of causing bladder cancer. These are a few of the many defective drug cases that indicate that in a world where we expect medicines and medical devices to be life-saver, it is not always the case.
We all expect from pharmaceutical companies and experts to test the effectiveness and safety of the drug before selling it to the people. It is the matter of their safety, well-being, and life because defective medical products can leave drastic consequences on the patient and it’s family’s life.
Fortunately, there is hope in law for those suffering from bad drug issues, and they can file a lawsuit against manufacturers and prescribers to get compensation for their losses.
When Can You File a Lawsuit?
There are three main types of lawsuits you can file against pharmaceutical companies in case of any medication problem:
Marketing defects lawsuits fall in the category when manufacturers fail to guide consumers about the instructions of usage and warn them about the possible side-effects, and outcomes. It is one of the most common types of cases that pharmaceutical companies have to face. And it is mostly the result of faulty labelling, incomplete safety warnings and instructions.
Like, sometimes, the medication is off-labelled, a medicine used to treat chronic pain is mentioned to cure fever, etc. In this case, if a patient uses medicine for a purpose he wasn’t seeking, it can lead to many troubles. So, in case you have been the victim of marketing defects, then you can file a lawsuit against the manufacturers.
Design defects lawsuits involve cases where the product itself is alright, but the associated side effects outweigh the product itself and cause side effects. Like, a medication might cause dizziness, vomiting, nausea, headache, vertigo, etc.
You can go for a lawsuit in such cases as well if you really think that all or any one of the mentioned conditions are the results of the medication. But before heading forward, it is always better to do a thorough medical checkup because it might be due to some other body issues.
As the name indicates, manufacturing defect cases occur when marketing and design are correct, but some issues arise during the manufacturing process. Like, maybe the formula went wrong, and something was extra added or not added during the manufacturing process that led to some side-effects in the consumer.
What Can You Get From a Lawsuit?
Medicine and medical device lawsuits fall under the category of product liability in the law. Product liability law compensates the people who have suffered from financial, physical and emotional injuries due to a wrongly prescribed drug or medical device. The plaintiff can file a case against the responsible people to claim damages, like:
Cost of Treatment:
Sometimes, a faulty product lands the plaintiff in a condition where he ends up in the hospital to treat the adverse health condition caused by faulty drug issue. Like, if a patient is facing severe vomiting, or has acquired some other health problems, then the claimant can demand compensation of hospital bills. Like, in the case of VIOXX, people claimed to suffer attack due to its usage.
Loss of Relative:
In case, an inadequate medication has ended up being fatal for your loved ones, then you can claim for compensation or justice for your emotional, and consortium loss. A claimant can also demand reimbursement of the funeral costs. Usually, people make high compensation claims in such cases because it involves the life of a person.
Lost Wages and Jobs:
People might also lose their jobs and wages due to poor health issues instigated by inadequate medication. Like, a plaintiff might become chronically ill and can’t continue the job for some time, then he can claim his financial loss.
Other claims can include effect on the quality of life, pain and other sufferings. But to get the compensation, the claimant must prove that its claims are valid, and he actually faced the injuries due to the product.
How to File a Lawsuit?
Well, people can head on and file a lawsuit on their own, but it is always better to hire a lawyer for defective drug lawsuits. Don’t forget that your fight is going to be against giant pharmaceutical and medical device companies who have their own expert legal team. You can’t fight against law experts all alone as you don’t know the requirements and complexities involved in law. Things can go totally wrong if you lose the case because then you might have to face a counter lawsuit from the company for compensation of damage to their reputation. So, it is always better to hire an expert product liability lawyer before filing a lawsuit.
A lawyer will give you a detailed insight into your case, the possibilities of your win, your legal rights, and guide you on other associated legal matters. He can also guide you on whether you should take your case as a class action or as multidistrict litigation (MDL)?
Class Action Lawsuit:
A class-action lawsuit can be filled in cases when a large number of people are claiming the problem from the same drug. So, an individual or a small number of people can become representative of the whole group and file lawsuits on behalf of all of them. After filing the case, the representatives ask the court to consider the case as a class action. Well, the court has the right to accept it as a class action case or not depending on the situation. But in case it does, then all the people involved gets the compensation if the representative wins the case.
A drawback to this type of cases is that all the individuals get the same amount of compensation regardless of the severity of their injuries. So, the people suffering from massive injury might be at a loss in this case as they will not get the deserving compensation share.
Though multidistrict litigation involves hearing of similar cases by a panel of judges, it is not like a class-action lawsuit. The jury hears similar cases simultaneously but all these cases are not considered as one. They remain as separate cases.
MDL cases usually occur when there are a large number of similar claims against common people, so the court asks for a common hearing to save time and resources of the state. In this case, the claimants are treated individually, like a person suffering from more injuries get more compensation than the one suffering from fewer damages.
Who Can You Hold Liable?
Most people think that only manufacturing companies are held responsible for product liability cases, but it is not the case. Everyone involved in the chain of reaching you out to a faulty medical product can be held liable for the lawsuit.
In the case of manufacturing defect type of cases, the testing laboratory can also be held responsible for the issue. Though manufacturing companies have manufactured the product, if there was a problem with the product from the starting, then testing laboratory can also be sued.
Though a doctor can’t be held responsible in case of a manufacturing defect, you can hold the doctor accountable in case of ‘fail to warn’ category. A doctor should know and tell the patient about all the possible outcomes of a medical product and its usage. In case of any damage due to doctor’s negligence, the doctor can also be sued.
If you have gone with a doctor’s prescription, then the pharmacist might not be responsible for any of your damage. Generally, a doctor’s prescription means that the doctor has told you everything related to the prescribed medical product, so the pharmacist is only responsible for following the handed prescription.
But in case you have asked a pharmacist about his medication advice without a doctor’s prescription, then the pharmacist is responsible for his actions. And you can sue him in case you ended up facing any damage based on his counselling.
People use prescription drugs and medical devices for their betterment, not to face some other adverse consequences. People entrust their trust and life in the hands of pharmaceutical companies, doctors and pharmacies while buying a medical product. This trust should be protected! All the people involved in testing, manufacturing, selling and prescribing of the medical product should be extra careful because it is a matter of someone’s life!