Prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause serious and irreversible injuries to a trusting public when they are improperly designed or manufactured. Consumers should be able to trust that the medications they take will not cause further illnesses or injuries. Unfortunately, in the quest to cut corners and maximize profits, many pharmaceutical companies put bad drugs on the market.
Victims have the legal right to compensation for injuries caused by dangerous drugs. Also, it is important to hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence so that other innocent victims are not harmed by such drugs. The experienced Florida Drug Injury Attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are highly skilled at litigating pharmaceutical cases. You can trust our skill and experience to secure the compensation to which Florida law entitles you.
Helping Drug Injury Victims in Florida
If you suffered an injury because of a dangerous drug, you deserve to have an experienced Florida drug injury lawyer on your side. Drug manufacturers often act negligently when pushing a drug to market. They may fail to disclose the side effects or even market the drug for off-label use. When a drug harms you or someone you love, you have a right to pursue justice. However, drug companies and manufacturers have large legal teams and insurance companies on their side and they have deep pockets. How can you possibly go against them?
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we are not afraid to go after large drug companies and manufacturers who put consumer health at risk. Florida consumers have rights and we are here to protect those rights. A product liability lawsuit can help you seek justice and collect the compensation you deserve. These lawsuits are difficult to win, however, without the right legal representation.
Call us at (727)451-6900 or fill out our confidential contact form to begin exploring all your legal options. We will meet with you in a FREE initial consultation to discuss your case and give you the honest feedback you need to choose the legal path that is best for you. In some cases, you may be eligible to participate in a class-action lawsuit or MDL. With offices across the state of Florida, we are here whenever you need us most.
Recent Recalls of Dangerous Drugs
Numerous dangerous drugs on the market have become subject to recalls.
Some of those dangerous drugs, which encompass both prescription and non-prescription drugs, include:
- Zantac – In April of 2020, the FDA requested the withdrawal of Zantac from the market. Consumers took Zantac to treat various types of stomach problems, including acid reflux and heartburn. However, users of the drug experienced side effects, including gastrointestinal distress and dizziness. Moreover, ranitidine—an ingredient in the drug—can lead to cancer in some patients.
- Belviq (Lorcaserin) – Belviq is a prescription drug that was recently recalled back in February of 2020. The drug, which consumers used for weight loss purposes, may have led to an increase in cancer. Once the manufacturer issued the recall, it told consumers that they should cease taking the drug and dispose of it promptly.
- Darvon and Darvocet – Darvon and Darvocet had been used as prescription painkillers. However, late in 2010, an ingredient used in the drug (propoxyphene) became linked to heart rhythm abnormalities that could lead to death. The FDA asked patients who consumed the drug for pain relief to stop doing so. The drug also had connections to risks of addiction, suicide, and overdose.
- Vioxx (Rofecoxib) – Vioxx was a drug that consumers used as an arthritis painkiller and was available by prescription. The FDA issued a recall due to an increased risk of heart attacks.
Common Dangerous Drugs that Have Come to the Forefront in the Last Decade
According to statistics provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), every year, nearly 4,500 dangerous medical devices and drugs are taken off the market. Moreover, in many instances, consumers might use recalled drugs for a significant time before the FDA takes them off the market.
In some cases, the FDA might bring to light various concerns about a particular drug. However, it is the manufacturer of the drug who must begin the recall process and actually carry out a drug recall.
What Does a Drug Recall Entail?
When a drug that is currently available for purchase on the market is defective in some way or presents significant harm to members of the public, the most effective way to protect members of the public is for a recall to be issued. According to the FDA, a recall serves as the most efficient means of correcting or removing products that violate laws administered by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
FDA recalls not only affect medications and drugs but defective medical devices. The FDA might issue a recall for a particular drug or product for numerous reasons. In some cases, the FDA may worry about how a company manufactures or packages a particular drug. At other times, individuals who use the drugs might report life-threatening or fatal injuries or illnesses.
When a particular drug is subject to recall, the consumer may have to return the drug or take some other action that is extremely simple. However, in the case of extremely dangerous drugs subject to recalls, where the consumer already suffered a serious medical complication, the consumer might need to undergo surgery or another medical procedure or treatments to correct the problem that resulted from the dangerous drug.
How Are Dangerous Drugs Recalled?
The process of recalling a drug can be complicated and multi-faceted. It can also take a significant time for the recall to become effective. Many people believe that the FDA has the unilateral authority to issue a recall on a particular drug. In fact, the FDA does not have blanket authority to recall a dangerous drug, and it does not have the authority to force a drug company to issue a recall. However, the FDA does have the authority to recommend that a certain drug be subject to recall. At that point, the drug manufacturer is responsible for initiating and actually carrying out the drug recall.
The process of issuing a recall on a particular drug contains several steps. Those steps include conducting a health hazard evaluation. This usually happens when the FDA receives reports that certain side effects, injuries, or illnesses in consumers who used the drug over time. As part of the drug’s evaluation, the FDA will typically put together a committee made up of scientists to review the drug.
As part of the health hazard evaluation, the committee will consider injuries or diseases that the drug might have caused, the relative hazards to the population (including children and elderly individuals), and the potential long-term consequences of using the drug and any health hazards that present themselves immediately.
Dangerous Drug Recall Classifications
There are several recall classifications for potentially dangerous drugs that are on the market. The FDA, which is responsible for classifying these recalls, does so based upon the seriousness of any injuries or illnesses that the drug purportedly caused users to suffer.
A Class 1 recall, for example, is the most serious recall issued for a dangerous drug. When a Class 1 recall is issued, it means that a reasonable probability exists that the subject drug could cause a user to suffer a serious injury/illness or death. Certain lifesaving drugs, heart devices, and defective pacemakers would fall within the Class 1 recall classification.
The majority of dangerous drug and device recalls, however, are Class 2 recalls. These recalled drugs or devices can cause reversible or temporary complications to individuals who use the product. For example, defective knee or hip implants could be subject to a Class 2 recall.
A Class 3 recall, by contrast, applies to a dangerous drug or device that is less likely to cause a consumer to suffer an injury.
In some instances, the FDA might require a public warning for a dangerous drug or device. When a public warning becomes necessary, the FDA—along with the manufacturer—could use the news media to warn about potential complications to those who might have consumed the drug.
When Is a Manufacturer Legally Responsible for Putting Bad Drugs on the Market?
To impose legal responsibility (“liability”) on a pharmaceutical manufacturer, an injury victim must present a legal basis for liability. These include:
- Products liability: When any product injures consumers due to defects in design or manufacturing, the manufacturer is obligated to pay compensation for these injuries. This can extend to consumers who actually purchased the product or any foreseeable user of the product. In addition to the manufacturer, distributors and retailers can also face liability for getting the dangerous product to the injured consumer. This general theory of liability can apply to pharmaceutical products and any other dangerous consumer goods.
- Dangerous side effects: Almost every medication comes with the possibility of side effects. While drug manufacturers are not expected to eliminate all possible side effects, they must properly label their products and adequately warn consumers about them. In some cases, manufacturers actually attempt to conceal the possibility of side effects. Manufacturers can also face the penalty of punitive damages, which are imposed to punish a defendant for, particularly egregious conduct. This usually occurs when a defendant has acted intentionally, caused harm to a large number of plaintiffs, or posted significant profits as the result of its conduct.
- Improper marketing: Marketing of pharmaceutical products does not refer only to television or magazine advertisements. Improper marketing can also consist of packaging, branding, warnings, and counseling about medication. A manufacturer, sales representative, doctor, or pharmacist can provide counseling about a medication.
It is also important to identify everyone that is legally responsible for your injuries. The law imposes liabilities on any company that was responsible for placing the product in the “stream of commerce” (that is, the path that ultimately led the product to the hands of the consumer). This can include the manufacturer, distributor, or retail sales location. In the case of defective drugs, this can also include:
- Testing laboratories – Labs and scientists may face liability for negligently performing tests, presenting false data, or performing incomplete studies.
- Pharmaceutical sales representatives – The representative, the sales company, and the manufacturer may all face liability for false or misleading statements and other misrepresentations made by its sales staff.
- Physicians – Doctors who relied on incomplete data from a testing laboratory or false statements from a sales representative may face liability because doctors ultimately have a duty to exercise their own professional judgments in determining the appropriate medication for patients. Doctors may also face liability for prescribing medications with known side effects or contraindications, or medications with questionable research data that the doctor knew—or should have known—about.
- Medical facilities – A hospital, clinic, or assisted living or outpatient facility can all face liability for injuries caused by bad drugs. By distributing or prescribing medication to a patient, a medical facility can directly cause injuries. These facilities may also face liability for the negligence of doctors whom they employ. If a doctor prescribes a bad medication within the scope of employment by a medical facility, that facility is obligated to compensate the victim for any resulting injuries.
- Pharmacies or pharmacists – A pharmacist who provided counseling about a defective medication may face liability for causing drug injuries. Like medical facilities, a pharmacy is liable for pharmacists who offer negligent medication counseling within the scope of their employment. Individual pharmacists may also commit malpractice if they fail to warn patients about dangerous side effects, fail to learn about the risks of particular medications or present misleading information about the risks of particular medications.
How Do I Obtain Compensation From a Large Drug Company?
Product liability cases can be complicated—and bad drug cases are even more so. Many large, multinational corporations may be responsible for causing your injuries and may be ready to fight against any type of legal liabilities. Documenting your injuries, determining which company or companies are responsible, figuring out how to contact them about your claims, proving they are liable for your injuries, and proving the number of your financial losses—these are daunting tasks. It is difficult—and sometimes impossible—for most injury victims to go through this process alone, especially with a large, intimidating corporation as an adversary.
The good news is that injury victims do not have to face this lengthy, complicated process alone. An experienced product liability attorney will thoroughly document and appropriately present your bad drug claim. A lawyer will also help determine whether a settlement offer from a company is fair or whether you need to file a lawsuit and litigate your claim to receive adequate compensation for your legal damages. A lawyer can handle these procedural concerns and strategic decisions for you so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
To win your Florida drug injury lawsuit, your lawyer may need to gather different kinds of evidence including:
- Food and Drug Administration recall
- Expert medical testimony
- Emails or documents from drug companies
- Internal memos
- Medical studies
FAQs About Drug Injuries
If you believe that you suffered injuries or illnesses from consuming a dangerous drug, the first thing that you should do is to contact your treating health care provider. Your provider will most likely recommend that you stop taking the drug. Moreover, if you have experienced harmful side effects, injuries, or illnesses from consuming a defective drug, you may pursue monetary compensation from the drug manufacturer—either as an individual or as part of a class-action lawsuit.
When it comes to drug recalls and class actions, many legal questions often come to mind. This section attempts to explore the answers to some common questions that arise in the context of drug injury cases:
What do you need to prove in a drug injury case?
Individuals who have suffered injuries because of a dangerous drug have the burden of proof in any claim or lawsuit they file. Most drug injury cases center on product liability. In other words, the manufacturer may not have sufficiently tested the drug in question before selling it to the public. In other instances, the drug had a defective design and/or resulted in unforeseen side effects, and the company failed to notify authorities or customers upon discovering them. A drug manufacturer may have misled the FDA or public about side effects to gain approval or customers.
Drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies owe the public a very high duty of care. Specifically, they must act reasonably when testing drugs and ensuring that they are safe for consumption. If you can prove that a drug company failed to take these necessary steps when it came to a drug that you consumed, and you suffered an injury or illness, you can pursue monetary compensation.
A knowledgeable Florida drug injury attorney could assist you with proving the legal elements of your product liability claim. Your attorney will also take the necessary steps to help you pursue monetary compensation for your injury or illness.
How can a lawyer help with pursuing legal action against a drug or pharmaceutical company?
If you believe that you suffered injuries due to a dangerous drug manufactured and produced by a pharmaceutical company, you need knowledgeable legal counsel by your side every step of the way. First of all, a lawyer may begin an investigation into the drug and determine whether or not a recall happened. If you have a viable claim, your attorney could pursue a case against the pharmaceutical company on your behalf individually or as part of a class action.
Many drug cases ultimately settle out of court. However, a lawyer is typically dealing with a large pharmaceutical company and its insurers. Settlement negotiations in drug injury cases can take many weeks or months. A Florida drug injury lawyer could take part in negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure that any settlement offer fully and fairly compensates you for your injuries. If the insurance company does not want to give you the full value for your case, your attorney could litigate the case in the state or federal court system, and if necessary, take your case to a jury trial.
What are the potential types of damages that I could recover in a dangerous drug case?
Individuals who suffer injuries or illnesses because of a dangerous or defective drug can suffer numerous medical complications. In some instances, they may require additional medical treatment, such as hospitalization or surgery, to correct the problem. In a worst-case scenario, the consumer could suffer a fatal injury or illness from consuming a defective drug.
If the consumer can prove that their injury/illness resulted from consuming a dangerous drug, then the consumer could pursue various forms of monetary compensation. That compensation includes medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and permanency damages resulting from an injury/illness associated with the dangerous drug.
If the consumer dies because of a dangerous drug, their family members can pursue a wrongful death claim, seeking burial and funeral expenses, as well as compensation for loss of the deceased individual’s companionship and support.
Drug Class Action vs. MDL
In the context of dangerous drug cases, the concepts of drug class action lawsuits and multidistrict litigation often come up. A class-action lawsuit is a single lawsuit. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit suffered harm in the same or similar ways from a particular defendant. To make a claim or lawsuit more efficient, the plaintiffs essentially consolidate all of their claims into a single class-action lawsuit.
When federal law comes into play—as is usually the case with dangerous drug cases—a class action lawsuit might occur in federal court. However, you can also bring these types of claims in the Florida state court system, depending on the circumstances involved. To file and participate in a drug class action case, you would need to file with several similarly situated individuals on behalf of a proposed class.
Multidistrict litigation, which is sometimes abbreviated MDL, is different from a class-action claim or lawsuit against a drug manufacturer or other defendant. In contrast to a dangerous drug class action lawsuit, MDL can involve several independent lawsuits proceeding in the court system filed by different plaintiffs in different jurisdictions.
These independent (but related) lawsuits could then consolidate their pre-trial proceedings, such as discovery. However, when the cases proceed to trial, they could return to the courts in their own jurisdictions. The main purpose of multi-district litigation is to make complex cases more efficient and to speed up the entire process.
Florida Drug Injury Attorneys Who Will Hold Drug Manufacturers Accountable
Drug manufacturers have a legal obligation to make their products safe for the trusting public. When they negligently design or manufacture medications, injury victims are entitled to compensation for their losses. The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has more than 46 years of experience in protecting the rights of injury victims in the state of Florida, including throughout the Clearwater area. We hold drug manufacturers accountable for their negligence to protect injured clients and to prevent other innocent victims from being injured. Call (833) 606-DRUG  or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today.