Americans face a great number of concerns when it comes to healthcare, and suffering harmful side effects from dangerous drugs is unfortunately one of the most common. Physicians who prescribe medications must take care to do so in their patients’ best interests and fully inform their patients of the drug’s necessity, possible side effects, and hazardous interactions with other medications. Failing at any of these things, doctors who prescribe dangerous drugs with harmful side effects may be guilty of medical malpractice.
When you’ve experienced the harmful side effects of a dangerous drug, you may be wondering if you have any options for legal recourse. You may also wonder who is responsible for your illness or injuries. Depending on the nature of your case, your lawsuit could potentially entail multiple defendants.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a responsibility to the American people to ensure no one may sell or distribute harmful substances. This includes regulation of the food and drug industries as well as extensive review processes that ensure product safety. Many people falsely assume that the FDA must approve a drug before it can legally reach patients. While this would seem to make sense, this is not the case. Many drugs reach the market before obtaining FDA approval.
As a government agency, the FDA has sovereign immunity, protecting it from lawsuits. Since suing the FDA is out of the question, you may think the next logical defendant would be the drug’s manufacturer. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
Prior to 2013, if a drug manufacturer released a dangerous drug that caused adverse side effects, anyone who suffered these side effects could sue the manufacturers for their losses. However, in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a significant decision regarding the case of Karen Bartlett vs. U.S. Merck and Co. and Mutual Pharmaceutical Company. This ruling states that individuals may not sue drug manufacturers for the effects of drugs that have FDA approval. This means that once the FDA approves a drug, plaintiffs may not sue the manufacturer for damages even in the face of legitimate proof the drug is harmful.
Since you cannot sue the FDA or the manufacturer (in most cases) for the effects of dangerous drugs, your only options left for legal recourse will be to sue the doctor who prescribed the medication or the pharmacy that filled your prescription. It’s vital to connect with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in these situations so you can more easily establish physician or pharmacy liability.
Physicians have very high legal standards of care due to the nature of their work. Whenever a doctor violates established medical community standards, endangers the health and wellbeing of patients, or deviates from accepted practices without just cause, a jury may deem the doctor negligent and liable for the effects of a dangerous prescription. Similarly, pharmacists have a legal duty of care to ensure safe dispensing of medications. Pharmacists must recognize dangerous interactions between drugs and verify proper doses per doctors’ instructions.
You’ll need the services of a qualified and reliable medical malpractice or personal injury attorney to handle your case. To establish physician or pharmacy liability, your attorney must prove that either your physician or pharmacist knew the drug in question was dangerous, and yet supplied it anyway. Most doctors and pharmacies have access to vast legal resources, so only an attorney of your own will have the skills necessary to navigate you to an acceptable result.