Defective Prescription Drugs a Major Problem in Boca Raton Florida
With an aging baby boomer population, especially in popular retirement regions of the Sunshine State, more and more Americans are relying on prescription drugs to help manage pain and other health issues. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that 70% of Americans currently take at least one prescription drug, and over 50% take at least two. One in every five individuals has five or more prescription medications, with elderly people being particularly likely to have more prescribed drugs.
With so many Americans depending on these medications, it should stand to reason that doctors and pharmacists are particularly careful about preparing and dispensing them, as well as warning their patients about potential side effects or unwanted drug interactions. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Prescription drug overdoses are a major problem in Florida. 16.4 out of every 100,000 people suffer a drug overdose in our state, and the majority of those overdoses come from drugs that have been prescribed by a doctor. In some cases, this overdose may be caused by a patient failing to follow medication instructions, but in other cases, they may overdose due to the bad advice of a doctor or a lack of warnings on their medication.
Even when Floridians with prescribed medications don’t overdose, serious side effects or unexpected drug interactions can cause long-lasting injuries that lead to expensive medical bills, a decreased quality of life, and long-term pain.
Prescription drugs might not be the first thing most people think of when they hear the phrase “defective products,” but just like toys that pose a choking hazard or cars whose airbags do not deploy, an improperly manufactured or distributed drug can cause serious injuries or even death.
What Constitutes a Prescription Drug Product Liability?
There are several different ways in which a prescription drug can be considered defective. The drug itself does not necessarily have to be considered defective in a product liability claim; even if it is improperly marketed, it may result in a product liability case. The three primary types of prescription drug product liability claims are:
Defective manufacturing. Any drug that has been improperly manufactured or was tainted in the manufacturing process falls into this category. This can involve an entire batch of drugs or an individual unit and can even involve a bottle being mislabeled.
Dangerous side effects. We’ve all seen those TV ads for prescription drugs that speed through a long list of potential side effects at the end. We may accept certain side effects as worth it, but nobody wants to suffer from long-term unexpected side effects, and it’s the drug manufacturer’s duty to make sure that consumers are aware of all potential side effects—and that no drug they release is likely to cause serious harm. If manufacturers know that their product may increase the risk of a certain type of injury or disease but fail to act, they can be held liable when patients suffer the negative consequences of their drug.
Improper marketing. If you’ve ever taken a prescription or even an over-the-counter medication, you know that they come with instructions on how to take them and warnings about side effects. If a manufacturer fails to provide warnings about certain side effects, dangerous drug interactions, or proper instructions for their drug’s usage, they may be held liable. Doctors and pharmacists can also be held responsible if they give their patients bad advice about what prescription drugs to take and that advice results in injury.
Who Can Be Held Responsible?
It’s not always easy to determine where fault lies in prescription drug cases. After all, there are a lot of different places—from the manufacturing facility to the dispensary—where something can go wrong. However, experienced prescription drug attorneys can typically help their clients determine the cause of the defect. Parties that may be held responsible include:
- Manufacturers. Manufacturers can often be found responsible in all three of the types of product liability cases described above. Drug manufacturers have a duty to make sure their product is safe when used properly, and to clearly indicate instructions for usage and any potential side effects.
- Doctors. We tend to think of doctors as infallible authority figures in our society, but there are cases when doctors have given patients bad advice in regards to prescription drugs. Because of their duties as physicians, they can potentially be held responsible, or partially responsible, if they fail to warn patients about potential side effects or don’t provide proper instructions for a drug’s use.
- Hospitals. In some cases, it is not an individual doctor, but rather a hospital or clinic that sends a patient off with a potentially harmful prescription drug.
- Pharmacists. It’s a pharmacist’s job to correctly label and dispense drugs after doctors prescribe them to their patients. They are not necessarily responsible for warning patients about side effects or drug interactions, but they do have a duty to warn patients if they know of a patient’s condition that will make it dangerous for them to take that drug. They can also be held responsible if they mislabel drugs or give patients the wrong prescription or dosage.
- Testing labs. Prescription drugs need to be rigorously tested before they can go on the market. If it turns out that testing results were fabricated or concealed, these labs may be found liable.
If you or a loved one takes a defective prescription drug, the consequences can be devastating. You need to stand up for yourself, especially in cases in which you suffer an injury that results in medical expenses and a decreased quality of life. You may have both a medical malpractice and a product liability case on your hands, so it’s important that you work with a personal injury attorney who has experience in both these areas.
Going up against a large organization like a hospital or a drug manufacturer may seem intimidating, but it’s necessary to hold these parties responsible for their negligence in order to make sure no one else suffers the same negative consequences—and to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a prescription drug in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach or Fort Lauderdale, you owe it to yourself to contact the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida. We offer free consultations to go over your case and won’t charge you anything until we recover compensation for you. Call us today at 954-764-7377 in Fort Lauderdale, 561-209-2100 in Boca Raton & West Palm Beach, Toll-Free at 877-566-8759, or fill out this convenient online form.