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Tulsa Dangerous Drug Attorney

Every day, thousands of people depend on the safety and efficacy of their prescription or over-the-counter medications. Drugs are developed to treat common ailments and improve the quality of life, but sometimes a medicine causes dangerous illnesses and side effects. When manufacturers fail to warn consumers about the hazards that their drugs may cause, they put the health and lives of patients at risk.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires pharmaceutical companies to thoroughly test all new drugs to verify that they are safe and effective. Whenever a victim in Oklahoma suffers a serious injury, illness, or even death from a defective or harmful medication, they or their loved ones may need to consult with a Tulsa dangerous drug attorney.

How Drugs Can Cause Harm

Consumers expect their medications to work correctly, and they expect the manufacturer of those drugs to clearly warn them about any potential side effects or harm that may occur. When a drug causes an unexpected reaction, the origin can usually be traced to one of these reasons:

  • Testing and approval: Drugs must be tested and studied extensively prior to receiving government approval for sale. Oversights, errors, or mistakes during testing could allow dangerous risks to slip by unnoticed.
  • Manufacturing: Producing drugs requires extreme precision, care, and quality control. Errors in measurement or misalignments in assembly line equipment can lead to incorrect formulations or packaging. Much of drug manufacturing occurs outside the US where quality control is less stringent.
  • Distribution: Many drugs must be shipped in climate-controlled conditions; not doing so risks altering their chemical makeup. This leads to changes that could render the drug ineffective or dangerous to patients.
  • Prescriptions: If a drug is made correctly but prescribed inappropriately by a doctor, patients can experience significant harm. Manufacturers are responsible for providing correct instructions on how a medication should be used.
  • Side effects: Adverse side effects can occur with almost every drug and they should be clearly listed on the product label. Without this information, patients cannot make fully informed choices about taking the medication.

The sooner a drug can be released to the market, the faster its manufacturer can start recouping development and research costs, thereby realizing a profit. The drive to make money as quickly as possible from a medication leads some pharmaceutical companies to engage in unethical or dangerous practices.

In some instances, drug manufacturers will offer incentives to doctors to prescribe their products to more patients, resulting in a wider market share for the medication. This can lead to a greater number of people suffering dangerous effects from a drug that was rushed through the approval process. Additionally, doctors are often encouraged to recommend off-label applications for medicines which can open the door to even more harm.

How Does a Drug Become Dangerous?

Most drug manufacturers do not set out with the goal of making dangerous drugs. They develop medications to treat various conditions and help people live better lives. Pharmaceutical companies want to serve patients and consumers with quality products. The government relies on the FDA to monitor and regulate these products to protect the health of the nation’s population. However, there are loopholes in the laws governing the approval process, and some manufacturers use unethical practices to put profits over the well-being of their customers. That is when a dangerous drug attorney can help.

Although the FDA is tasked with testing and screening all new medications developed for the US market, not every manufacturer will follow the regulations set forth. More drugs than ever are being created to address thousands of different medical conditions. Sometimes the success of one drug will cause manufacturers to produce competing medications to cash in on the popularity.

The influx has been so great that the FDA created a controversial Fast Track process, which relies on the good faith of pharmaceutical companies to prove the safety of their drugs. The normal process requires third-party testing of drugs to ensure a medication truly is without significant risk to patients, and that it does what it claims to do. Some companies may shortcut their testing and studies in an effort to beat their competition to market. Because companies have a vested interest in seeing their products available for sale quickly, a large conflict of interest exists in these situations.

What Causes an FDA Drug Recall?

Occasionally, the FDA will recall a drug when it is implicated in numerous cases of illness or injury. A recall entails removing the drug from sale and distribution and notifying all providers and patients of the recall. A recall may be mandated by the FDA or it may be issued by the manufacturer voluntarily.

The rates of recall have been increasing in the last several years. Many different types of drugs have been recalled or removed completely from the market. The most common ones are injectable drugs, painkillers, heart medications, dietary or herbal supplements, and cough medicines.

The FDA classifies recalls in one of three ways:

  • Class I Recall: The drug is defective or dangerous and can cause serious illness or death. This is the most serious type of recall.
  • Class II Recall: The drug may result in a temporary condition or have a slight risk of serious side effects.
  • Class III Recall: The drug violates manufacturing or labeling laws as governed by the FDA.

Every year, more drugs enter the market, and every year, more drugs are recalled for causing significant and adverse reactions in patients. The most common reasons for these recalls include:

  • Defective products (bad manufacturing or chemical instability)
  • Bacterial contamination
  • Incorrect labeling instructions or wrong ingredient levels
  • Production processes that do not maintain sterile conditions
  • Manufacturing violations
  • Products containing particulate matter that is dangerous to humans
How Using an Attorney Benefits Your Dangerous Drug Lawsuit

The laws governing drug manufacture and use are complicated and very technical. Understanding where to begin can be overwhelming to the average person who has been the victim of a dangerous drug. The amount of research and investigation alone can take years, and laypeople do not have access to the records, which can be critical to proving their case.

Oklahoma Statutes Section 76.101 and 76.103 delineate how product liability claims should be filed against drug companies and an experienced Tulsa dangerous drug attorney is vital to understanding how it affects your claim. Gathering evidence and documentation showing how a medication was defectively made or marketed takes a long time and Oklahoma only allows a 2-year window to file a personal injury, product liability, or wrongful death lawsuit.

Most suits against pharmaceutical companies are best handled by using a mass tort claim. These differ from other personal injury claims and are a way to obtain compensation for many plaintiffs who have suffered a similar injury, illness, or loss. Mass tort claims help those affected to gain recourse for their suffering and hold negligent manufacturers responsible.

What Damages Can I Seek in A Dangerous Drug Lawsuit?

In order to accurately calculate what damages to pursue, a dangerous drug lawyer will ask the plaintiff to record every detail of their symptoms and reactions to a medication. They will ask the victim to collect all bills and receipts to support a fair estimate of damages. Both economic and non-economic losses can be listed, such as:

  • Economic:
    • Medical and hospital bills
    • Physical or mental therapy receipts
    • Medical assistive device expenses
    • Travel charges for specialized care
    • Lost income
    • Lost earning potential
    • Insurance deductibles and co-pays
  • Non-economic:
    • Loss of consortium
    • Pain and suffering
    • Loss of companionship
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Mental anguish
    • Worsening of previous medical conditions
    • Premature death

When a drug manufacturer’s product causes particularly grave injury to patients, the court may choose to award punitive damages. These are intended to make an example of the dangerous drug’s manufacturer, distributor, or other party by inflicting serious financial punishment. Punitive damages also serve as a warning to any other pharmaceutical company that may take the same risks. A judge may also decide to add in orders directing changes to manufacturing procedures or policies to which the defendant must adhere to in the future.

Filing a Dangerous Drug Claim in Tulsa

Lawsuits involving dangerous drugs fall under the umbrella of personal injury claims, specifically the category of product liability. These types of cases require that the plaintiff provide proof that a drug was defectively manufactured, was improperly tested or was defectively marketed. Evidence can be difficult to obtain without the assistance of an attorney since it often requires filing legal motions to obtain a company’s internal documentation about the drug. Companies will often stall and file opposing motions to delay providing this information.

Proving liability depends on demonstrating that the manufacturer, a distributor, or some other party:

  • Had a duty of care regarding the drug
  • Breached their duty of care
  • Caused injury, illness, or death because of the breach, and that the breach is related to the injury, illness, or death.

Even in instances where a drug has been recalled by the manufacturer, it is still possible to take legal action when a medication has proven dangerous. However, pharmaceutical companies maintain large financial and legal resources to fight claims against them. They often investigate a patient’s history to uncover any information that will cast doubt on the plaintiff’s claim.

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