Drug recalls are extremely common, with the FDA reporting that about 3,600 recalls occurred between 2012 and 2023.
Some recalls are temporary, affecting specific batches that experienced a problem, while others are due to an overall issue with the drug. Some involve a lack of warning about potential side effects or drug interactions.
Unfortunately, you could suffer severe and sometimes permanent health consequences if you use one of these products before it’s recalled or before the company can update safety information.
How Can a Georgia Dangerous Drugs Attorney Help You?
It’s not always easy to know if your health issues are caused by a specific medication you’ve taken.
You might brush off your difficulties as bad luck or genetics; in some cases, you could be right. It’s also possible you’ve experienced a severe side effect due to a dangerous drug, but how can you tell the difference?
If you believe or suspect you’ve been the victim of a dangerous drug, your lawyer will help you explore what happened and explain your options for seeking compensation.
We’ll review your case and ask about details like when your symptoms began, your initial diagnosis, and if you had any improvement after discontinuing the drug. Our experienced investigative team will also look into the drug and learn about other reported problems.
Types of Dangerous Drug Cases
There are three main types of situations that lead to harm for unsuspecting patients:
Production Problems or Manufacturing Defects
These usually only affect specific batches of medication, and a product recall will tell you how to identify the defective drugs. Possible causes include bacterial contamination, foreign materials like glass or metal getting into the medicine, or contamination by other medications.
Sometimes there are also issues with labeling, such as putting a 50mg pill in a packaging marked as 25mg. In this case, the medication itself might be safe, but the labeling mistake could lead to a dangerous overdose.
In these cases, the drug itself is inherently dangerous, and knowing the exact batch number of the drug you took is not as important. Frequently the problem is that the drug causes a severe side effect or condition in some patients that is not known when the drug is approved.
Clients often ask us how this can happen. Aren’t drugs tested before they receive FDA approval?
Yes, they are. But sometimes dangerous side effects can be missed in clinical trials for a few reasons:
If a side effect is less common and a drug is only tested on a small sample size, such as a few hundred people, it may not appear.
If a side effect does show up in a small trial but only affects 1-2 people, it’s easy to dismiss it as unrelated to the drug, especially if it’s a common condition in the tested group. For instance, if a drug company tests a product on men in their 60s and one of them suffers a fatal heart attack, this may or may not be related to the drug, as heart attacks are more common in older adults, especially men.
Clinical trials are often conducted with strict parameters. Drug companies frequently try to test drugs on healthy individuals without additional health conditions or multiple prescriptions. Once the drug is used in the broader population, more side effects or drug interactions may show up that weren’t known before.
Less commonly, a drug company may intentionally suppress information about the dangers of a medication.
One example is the popular heartburn drug ranitidine, which was previously sold under the brand name Zantac. Ranitidine itself is not especially dangerous, but it is an unstable molecule that degrades into a carcinogen known as NDMA.
The more time passes, the more ranitidine degrades into NDMA, so it’s difficult to know how much NDMA any user was exposed to.
For instance, a bottle that had been sitting on the shelf at the drugstore for a few months before you purchased it may have had very high levels of NDMA, while a bottle that just arrived at the store might have had lower levels.
But there is no way to trace every bottle of ranitidine you previously bought and used. This is a design flaw because every bottle of ranitidine had the potential to degrade into NDMA.
As a result, ranitidine-containing products were recalled in April 2020 after an online pharmacy detected high levels of NDMA in multiple samples of brand-name and generic ranitidine products.
The current formulation of Zantac and other over-the-counter heartburn medications use different active ingredients, as ranitidine is no longer sold.
Marketing defects often result in “failure to warn” lawsuits. These occur when a drug has risks that might be acceptable if prescribers and patients receive an appropriate warning about them, but the warning doesn’t happen.
This occurred in the case of Purdue Pharma, concealing the risks of addiction associated with its drug Oxycontin. All opioids carry some risk of addiction, and prior to the introduction of Oxycontin, most prescribers were aware of these concerns.
They took steps to reduce the risk, such as prescribing more limited amounts or choosing other medications for patients with a history of substance use issues.
The problem happened when Oxycontin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, promised prescribers the drug was less addictive than other opioid medications like morphine and could be safely prescribed earlier for non-cancer pain.
Company executives instructed employees not to correct prescribers who mistakenly believed Oxycontin was weaker and safer than morphine.
As a result, healthcare providers felt comfortable prescribing it more often than they would have if they’d known the truth, leading to increased opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
But Oxycontin is an extreme case. In most defective drug situations, there isn’t necessarily any evidence that the manufacturer intentionally lied or misled prescribers or patients.
Often, the company simply wasn’t aware of the risks until after many people had been harmed.
Understanding Georgia’s Strict Liability Laws for Dangerous Drug Cases
Georgia uses “strict liability” in pharmaceutical liability cases. Accordingly, it’s not necessary to prove anyone intended to deceive the public or even that the manufacturer was negligent or careless (the standard in some states).
You do, however, have to meet the following criteria for strict liability:
The drug was “unreasonably dangerous” due to a defect in design, manufacturing, or shipping/handling. All drugs have some risks, so it will be up to your lawyer to show that this particular drug poses an “unreasonable” threat.
Because of this defect, you were injured despite using the drug as directed. The last part of that sentence is crucial because the pharmaceutical company may defend itself by claiming you didn’t use the drug as directed. Your lawyer will work with you to compile evidence of your compliance with the instructions.
There was no significant alteration to the drug before you used it. In other words, it was dangerous when you received it.
Is the Drug Manufacturer the Only Possible Defendant?
No. In some cases, you might also have a claim against a lab testing facility, a drug company sales rep, a hospital or healthcare facility, a prescriber, or a pharmacy.
Some cases prove to be caused by an issue with medical negligence rather than a defective drug itself. Here are some examples:
The provider prescribed the wrong drug for your condition.
The provider prescribed a drug to treat your condition but ignored the manufacturer’s warnings. For instance, some medications can lead to a slight increase in the risk of developing blood clots. Often the overall risk is still low; for most patients, it’s considered an “acceptable” risk. However, the manufacturer’s literature will usually note that this drug should not be prescribed to people with a personal or family history of clotting problems or other risk factors like smoking. If your doctor prescribes such medication without asking about your history or other risk factors, that’s the doctor’s fault, not the drug manufacturer’s. Another example would be prescribing a medication that shouldn’t be used with a different drug you’ve also been prescribed.
At the same time, mistakes do happen, so pharmacists must also check for potential drug interactions or dangerous side effects. If you’ve ever been told that you have to talk to the pharmacist before filling a drug prescription for the first time, this is probably why. The pharmacist will check your records for any drug interactions. But in case you filled a prescription at a different pharmacy, they will also verbally confirm that you are not taking specific medications if a potentially severe interaction exists with the new prescription. The pharmacist could be negligent if they don’t check for these issues.
In hospital settings, there may be a disconnect between what the prescriber ordered and what a nurse or other staff member dispensed to the patient. Sometimes a patient may receive the wrong dose of the right medication or simply the wrong medication.
How Does Your Georgia Dangerous Drugs Lawyer Work to Prove Your Case?
We begin by reviewing your case and medical records, often starting with when you were prescribed the drug, how it was administered (if you were in a hospital setting), and when your symptoms began.
Our investigators may look into other claims against the manufacturer regarding this drug. If the medication was prescribed for you to use at home, we might ask about how you used it – how often, if you followed the directions, etc.
In some cases, we may also interview witnesses, such as family or friends, who might also remember when you first experienced symptoms or the progression of events after you arrived at the hospital.
We understand that if you became seriously ill due to a defective drug, you may have been unconscious or on medications that affected your memory, and witness testimony can be helpful in these situations.
What Kind of Damages Are Available in a Dangerous Drug Lawsuit?
If you were harmed by a dangerous drug, you might be able to pursue some or all of the following damages:
Medical expenses for your hospitalizations, tests, and treatments related to the side effects you suffered. This also includes future healthcare costs if you need continued treatment. Some patients may also have additional related costs like physical therapy, mobility aids, accommodations to make a home or vehicle accessible, etc.
Lost wages for the time you spent in the hospital or otherwise unable to work. If the drug harmed you to the extent that you’re permanently unable to resume your work, or if you can no longer do the same job or work the same hours, you may also have a claim for lost earning potential.
Loss of consortium or companionship, if you lost a loved one or your relationship was permanently damaged due to the effects of your health problems.
Pain and suffering. Your lawyer will ask about both physical pain and mental or emotional suffering. Many people who suffer serious side effects from a damaged drug develop anxiety, depression, insomnia, or other mental health difficulties as a result. At the same time, chronic physical pain is also common.
Wrongful death. If the dangerous drug cost your loved one their life, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim if you were the victim’s spouse. If the deceased was unmarried, their children could file a claim; if they had no spouse or children, their parents could do so. When the decedent had no living spouse, children, or parents, their estate might pursue a claim.
Where Can You Find a Georgia Dangerous Drugs Lawyer?
If you suspect a dangerous medication might have injured you, please contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation about your case. We’ll review the details, answer your questions, and lay out your options for seeking compensation.
If we take your case, you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle it, so there is no need to worry about upfront costs. In most cases, you only have two years from the date of injury to file a claim, so call us immediately at 888-307-3792 to learn more.
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