Prescription drugs and medicines can be lifesavers and improve the lives of many patients with chronic conditions as well as those experiencing a brief or extended illness. Most of them have undergone extensive clinical trials and have been determined safe by the federal Food and Drug Administration. However, too many drugs have been rushed through the approval process and wind up having dangerous—and even fatal—side effects. Others have interactions with other medications, foods and even herbal supplements, and drug companies failed to warn patients and doctors.
If you have been harmed by a dangerous drug, you have recourse. Drug litigation has become common over the past several years as Big Pharma, eager for profits, rushes clinical trials and safety tests, or even makes “deals” with the FDA in order to get their products to market in the shortest possible time. In other cases, pharmaceuticals are tainted with toxic substances, as happened in 2018 with the blood pressure medication valsartan and again recently with the diabetic drug Januvia.
Patients who have suffered from harmful side effects can sue the company and obtain compensation for their injuries as well as pain and suffering and emotional distress. If a dangerous prescription drug kills a family member, the company can be liable for wrongful death as well.
The Most Dangerous Drugs
Not all prescription drugs are toxic or have serious or fatal side effects when taken as directed by the patient for whom it is prescribed. The most dangerous medication classes are those that are over-prescribed and/or have a high potential for addiction and abuse. Here are four classes of drugs that top the list.
As the name suggests, opioids are synthetic versions of opium, from which morphine and heroin are derived. Like their poppy-based counterparts, opioids are prescribed for pain management. And they are far stronger than opiates. Like morphine and heroin, opioids are extremely addictive and pose a high risk of overdose.
Prescription drugs of the opioid class include:
- oxycodone (OxyContin)
- hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze, Actiq)
Unless you have been totally cut off from media news over the past several years, you are likely aware of the opioid addiction crisis in the U.S. You may even know someone who has been addicted or killed as a result of abusing opioids.
The shocking fact is that Big Pharma, Congress and the Drug Enforcement Agency were all complicit in creating the opioid crisis. According to a former DEA whistleblower in October 2017, pharmaceutical industry lobbyists pressured Congress and the Department of Justice to essentially turn a blind eye to large corporate drug distributors who were filling large orders to “rogue doctors” operating “pill mills.”
These are tranquilizers used for the treatment of conditions such as anxiety and sleep disorders. Drugs of this class include:
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- diazepam (Valium)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- oxazepam (Serax)
- temazepam (Restoril)
When used on a short-term basis, these medications pose little risk. However, when taking benzodiazepines over an extended period of time creates both dependency and tolerance—meaning the patient will need more of the substance in order to get the same effect. Quitting “cold turkey” can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepines taken in combination with opioids can be deadly. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Pain Medicine, patients taking both types of medication are at a 1000 percent greater risk of death from overdose.
Used primarily to treat children and adults diagnosed with ADHD, these drugs include:
- methylphenidate (Ritalin)
- amphetamines (Adderall)
When used as prescribed, stimulants pose little risk. The danger stems from illegal sales to people for whom they were not prescribed. These people take stimulants in large quantities in order to stay away or simply for recreational purposes. In 2021, a survey of nursing students who had prescriptions for stimulants found that all participants had had someone ask for their pills. Over 11 percent of respondents admitted to taking stimulants without an authorized prescription.
These drugs have become infamous because of doping scandals among professional athletes. As prescribed, they are useful for treating delayed puberty and loss of muscle mass due to certain illnesses. However, too many athletes abuse them to “bulk up” and increase their endurance.
Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids can result in heart disease and aggressive behavior leading to acts of violence.
More Dangerous Drugs
Unfortunately, while the drug mentioned above classes pose the greatest dangers, they are hardly alone. Harmful and defective drugs that have been in recent news include:
- valsartan—a blood pressure medication found to contain NDMA, a carcinogenic chemical used in jet fuel
- Canagliflozin (Invokana) – a diabetic drug that works by eliminating excess glucose through the kidneys, which has been causing kidney failure and nerve damage
- rivaroxaban (Xarelto)—an anticoagulant that has caused fatal internal hemorrhaging in patients.
- pioglitazone (Actos)—in 2015, Japan-based drugmaker Takeda paid $2.4 billion to settle claims that the Type-2 diabetes medication had caused plaintiffs to develop bladder cancer.
- GBCAs—these are agents injected into the bloodstream when a patient undergoes an MRI procedure. Lawsuits claim the substance causes metallosis and other serious complications.
Were You Harmed by a Dangerous Drug?
Drug litigation is different from the typical injury lawsuit, as it often involves dozens, hundreds or even thousands of plaintiffs. Class action lawsuits may be effective in punishing corporate malfeasance, but each plaintiff winds up getting relatively little in the way of compensation.
In order to address the problems that come with large, complex injury cases, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren appointed a committee whose work in the 1960s culminated in the creation of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). By 2018, more than half of all federal lawsuits were consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Over 90 percent of those cases involve injury lawsuits.
When a mass tort reaches the MDL stage, a select number of cases are selected for “bellwether” trials in a federal district court. Depending on the outcome of these trials, the defendant company will either settle, or the cases will be remanded to their original jurisdictions.
Regardless of how your case moves forward, your Utah dangerous drug lawyer will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Damages you can recover include:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Loss of wages and earning capacity
- Household expenses (including in-home care)
- Transportation expenses
- Reduced quality of life
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
- Wrongful death
Often when a big company decides to settle, it establishes a fund against which plaintiffs can file their claims. Your attorney can assist you in this matter as well.
Different drugs are released onto the market every year. Some of these drugs have adverse side effects, even if they’ve been tested and approved by the FDA. Other drugs are released without going through the proper checks to make sure they’re good for people.
Taking a prescription drug that has adverse effects can change your entire life. We want to help you get back on your feet and find the justice you deserve.
Our attorneys have experience on cases with the following drugs:
- Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella
- Topamax and Topiramate
- Darvon, Darvocet, Propoxyphene
If you’ve ever taken any of these drugs and had adverse effects, contact Siegfried and Jensen for a free consultation.
Get the right attorneys for your cause
Misuse or overuse of prescription drugs can be dangerous, so you should speak with an experienced attorney immediately. Cases involving dangerous drugs can be complex and costly, and specialized legal and medical expertise may be required to prove liability on the part of your healthcare provider.
When you work with our dedicated personal injury attorneys, we promise to:
- answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- gather the information needed to build and defend your case, including medical records, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- ensure that everyone honors their commitments and treats you fairly.
- help you get what you need to rebuild your life and move forward.
If you or a loved one has been hurt by prescription drugs, contact Siegfried and Jensen today for more information and a free, no-pressure consultation.