If you suffer from a serious illness or injury after taking a drug – whether it was prescribed to you by a physician or an over-the-counter medication – you may be wondering what your legal rights are and if you have a valid claim. Some common questions that injured victims may ask include:
- Can I sue the pharmaceutical company that created the drug?
- Can I sue the FDA for approving this dangerous drug?
- Is my doctor liable since they prescribed the drug that caused me harm?
- Does the pharmacy have any responsibility in the claim?
The answers to these questions will ultimately depend on the circumstances of your particular case. Nevertheless, following is a brief synopsis of what is involved in bringing a claim against these and other parties.
Suing the FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting public health. They regulate human drugs, biologics, medical devices, etc. Most people assume that the FDA has approved all drugs on the market – but in reality, there are only a small number of prescription and over-the-counter medications out there with FDA approval. This is largely because some drugs simply are not subject to FDA approval, such as those referred to as compounded drugs.
If you do think the FDA released and approved a dangerous drug, you may have a claim against them. But, you will first need to prove that the FDA reviewed and approved the medication. Also, the agency cannot be sued unless they allow it – which is rare unless there is a specific situation that warrants it.
Suing the Pharmaceutical Drug Company
In most cases, lawsuits for dangerous drugs are brought against the company that manufactured the medication. These companies are sued for things like:
- Unpublished adverse side effects
If the drug has been approved by the FDA, however, the company may not be someone you can hold liable for your injuries. In the case of Bartlett vs. U.S. Merck and Co., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that once the FDA approves a drug, individuals are prohibited from suing the drug’s manufacturer – even if that drug has been shown to be harmful and caused your injuries.
Holding Others Liable
In your dangerous drug case you may also have a claim against the physician and pharmacy that prescribed and dispensed the drug. Their liability, however, is different than that of the manufacturer of the medication. For a physician to be liable, they must have breached the standard duty of care. For example, this would be the case if they did not explain the side effects or did not check for dangerous interactions between other medications you were taking. In these cases, the physician could be liable.
For pharmacists and pharmacy staff to be liable, the pharmacist must have breached their own standard of care – such as not verifying dosage amounts, not requesting information about drug interactions, or labeling the medications incorrectly.
Speak with an Attorney
If you think you have a valid dangerous drug case, it is best to speak with an attorney. The Atlanta attorneys at Van Sant Law, LLC can assist you with your claim. We have experience representing our clients against manufacturers, pharmacies, and even physicians. To get started, schedule a consultation at 404-991-5950 or fill out an online contact form with your case questions.