What are the typical causes of pharmaceutical malpractice?

Pharmaceutical malpractice (or pharmaceutical negligence) is one of the fastest growing types of personal injury lawsuits occurring today. It has been estimated that over a million people each year are potential victims of pharmaceutical malpractice in this country. While there may be different causes for pharmaceutical malpractice, they all have a common element – prescription medication. Lawsuits in this area are filed based on four (4) major causes: 1) defective drug recalls; 2) negative long-term side effects of prescription drugs; 3) improperly prescribed medication and 4) improperly filled prescriptions.

Americans are extremely health conscious, more today than ever. As a result of American’s attentiveness to their health problems, they are living longer. A significant reason we are enjoying a longer life is the advent of more, and better, prescription drugs. As medical science does a better job of identifying the causes of illnesses, new drugs are being created to address those causes. Drugs do not appear on the market overnight. Years of testing and data analysis are required to qualify a new drug to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before that drug can be placed on the market for consumer use. Since the drug company itself is the party that conducts the tests, and with a financial interest to get approval quickly, sometimes drugs are placed on the market with incomplete testing. If that happens, users may experience unanticipated reactions that can lead to serious injuries and/or death. Once discovered, responsible drug manufacturers should issue warnings that the drug is defective, inherently dangerous, its use should be immediately discontinued and remove the product from the stream of commerce. Unfortunately, by then, the harm has already been done.

Even if the testing is done properly and the existing data is correctly interpreted, most testing processes are performed on a limited number of test subjects, relatively short in duration, and may not reveal the cumulative effect the drug may have on a person over an extended period of time. A clinical test that lasts 3 (three) years is unlikely to reveal the effect the drug may have on a person who takes the drug for 5 (five) or 10 (ten) years. If a specific side effect only affects one out of 10,000 people taking the drug, and the test group used is only 7,000 participants, it is reasonable to presume that many potential people that could sustain adverse reactions may be missed in the testing process. The reality is that until a drug is being used in the mainstream population, most adverse effects never surface and users are at risk of potential injuries until someone is harmed.

Unfortunately, even otherwise safe drugs pose significant dangers if not administered properly. Doctors prescribe medications and pharmacists fill those prescriptions. Pharmacies employ assistants to help pharmacists fill prescriptions and deliver them to patients. Many drugs have similar names. Drugs may sometimes be mislabeled. A doctor can make a mistake and prescribe the wrong drug or an incorrect dosage. A pharmacist can misread a prescription, place the wrong drug or dosage in a patient’s bottle or mislabel the bottle. An assistant can place the wrong prescription in another patient’s bag and deliver the incorrect medication to the wrong patient. The list goes on. With all the possible mistakes that can be made from the doctor writing the prescription to the final delivery of the drug to a patient, it is no wonder that prescription related mistakes make up such a large portion of pharmaceutical malpractice claims.

If you feel the wrong medication was given to you, and you were harmed by that mistake, you need to speak to an attorney familiar with pharmaceutical malpractice to answer any questions you may have and insure your rights are protected. Who made the mistake can sometimes be a complex analysis. Call Dan Newlin & Partners at (407) 888-8000. Our firm is made up of experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys who are anxious to talk with you about your injury and explain to you the rights and protections you are entitled to under Florida law. Call now, the call is free, the information could be invaluable.