Dangerous Drugs - An Overview

Each year, the pharmaceutical industry produces many new drugs and medications that are meant to treat illnesses or diseases and improve people's health, well-being, and quality of life. Companies who manufacture pharmaceutical drugs are required by federal regulations to perform rigorous tests on new drugs to ensure they are safe for people to use. Many drugs spend years in the testing phase before being released on the market. In order to be released for medical administration, the United States Food and Drug Administration must approve the drugs. To be approved for distribution and use, the benefits of a drug must outweigh the risks for the condition that the drug is designed to treat.

Part of the drug testing process is to determine what adverse side effects a drug may have, as well as the benefits of the drug. While the benefit/risk analysis completed is thorough and extensive, sometimes pharmaceutical manufacturers do not discover all of the risks until a drug has been approved, distributed, and used. Often, the discovery of adverse effects is made when a person, or many people, experience serious injury, disability, birth defects in infants, or death as the result of taking the drugs.

After drugs have entered the market, the FDA has a process in place to monitor their safety on an ongoing basis. This sort of surveillance is meant to identify problems that may not have been discovered before the release of a drug because it was not used properly, side effects were not discovered, or it was not manufactured correctly. In the event that serious problems or flaws are discovered in drugs, particularly if they resulted in serious injury or death, the FDA will issue a drug recall. Class I recalls are the most serious and are issued when a complication from a drug has resulted in injury or death. If a recall is issued, the Food and Drug Administration will make an announcement to the public regarding safety concerns; drug companies will contact doctors and medical facilities via letters to alert them about new information pertaining to the drugs. The FDA will reevaluate the drug and determine whether or not it can continue to be used. In some instances, they will pull a drug from the market altogether.

Hundreds of drugs are subject to safety alerts and recalls each year. While this list is not by any means comprehensive, some examples of drugs that have been subject to safety alerts, recalls and suspensions include: Vioxx (treatment for arthritis pain and swelling), Crestor (treatment for high cholesterol), Allograft Implants (used in reconstructive surgery), Seroquel (treatment for mental illnesses), Fen-Phen (used for weight loss), and Ketek (treatment for respiratory infections). The Food and Drug Administration keeps an ongoing, comprehensive list of drugs that have been recalled or suspended from use.

People generally trust that the drugs prescribed to them, or approved over-the-counter medications that they purchase, will help them, not harm them. When serious incidents occur as the result of taking a drug that has been manufactured improperly or that has been discovered to cause serious adverse reactions, it can be devastating. From serious injury to potential disabilities, birth defects in children, or even death, the possibilities can be detrimental. The injuries sustained can lead to people needing long-term medical care and/or therapy to improve their conditions, which can be very costly.

In the event that you or a loved one has taken a prescription drug or over-the-counter medication that has resulted in serious injury, disability, birth defects, or death, it is important that you contact an attorney. An attorney who specializes in pharmaceutical drug litigation can guide you through the process of making a claim against a drug manufacturer and help you seek compensation and justice.