Medications and medical devices are supposed to help people, to manage symptoms, to cure diseases, and even to save lives. When someone experiences the opposite of these, when side effects are severe or unexpected, and in the worst case possible, when a drug or device causes a patient’s death, lawsuits are usually not far behind. Drug companies have a responsibility to deliver products that are as safe as possible. When they fail at this, people may seek justice and compensation.
Financial compensation for dangerous drugs and products is meant to provide people who were harmed with the money they need to get back on their feet and to compensate for pain and suffering. This compensation is also designed to be punitive, to punish drug companies for negligent behaviors and failing to live up to their responsibilities.
Reasons for Getting Compensation
People file lawsuits against drug companies for several reasons, but mostly because they find themselves worse off for having taken the medication or used the device. Specific reasons for suing and seeking compensation include accusations that a drug company failed to adequately warn patients of risks, for being negligent in a patient’s suffering or death, or for misrepresenting the safety or effectiveness of a drug or device.
The reasons that patients may want to get financial compensation for dangerous drugs and products are varied. Many people end up with big medical bills as a result of damaging side effects or a device gone wrong. Others have suffered for years and want some compensation for that, while some may have lost a loved one and want some type of compensation. Others simply want justice and to see the company at fault recognized for having done something wrong.
In some instances, it may not be individual patients suing a company over a defective drug or product. It could be the federal or state governments. This happens when a government agency, like the U.S. Department of Justice, or a state attorney general believes a drug company or device manufacturer has broken the law. This may happen when a company was found to have engaged in illegal marketing, to have violated the False Claims Act, or to have provided kickbacks to sell more of a product.
One example of this occurred when GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty in 2012 to charges of off-label marketing. The charges were brought by the government and included charges that the company had marketed Paxil for use in children and teens at a time when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved it for use in that population. It was not approved for teens and children because it can cause suicidal thoughts in this age group. Although doctors can prescribe drugs off-label, it is illegal for drug companies to market them that way.
The same charge was made against Johnson & Johnson for Risperdal an antipsychotic. The company was found to have marketed the drug off-label to children and elderly patients with dementia. Johnson & Johnson used kickbacks to pharmacies in nursing homes, knowing there were risks of death for this vulnerable population. The federal government and several state governments sued over the practice forcing the company to pay over $2 billion in total.
Lawsuits Filed by Patients
Even when the government doesn’t get involved in lawsuits over dangerous drugs and products, many individuals make the move to seek compensation. They want to see companies brought to justice; they want financial compensation for their suffering; and they want attention brought to the issue in the hopes of preventing other people from suffering unnecessarily.
One example of a company forced to pay out to harmed patients is Medtronic and its INFUSE Bone Grafts. This medical product is used to treat degenerative disc disease in the lower lumbar area of the back. These discs in the back don’t heal well on their own and a graft can help speed the healing process and bring relief from pain. Medtronic initially reported on risks of using the graft, but later was found to have withheld just how serious and frequent the risks were.
Later research found the risks of having complications with an INFUSE Bone Graft were 50 or more times higher than what Medtronic had reported. The Senate Finance Committee investigated Medtronic, its hiding of data, and its off-label promotion of INFUSE, but never took legal action. Individuals who suffered the complications did, however, and ended up with settlements and financial compensation up to $22 million.
One of the largest settlements paid out by any drug company was from Takeda in 2015. The many lawsuits the company faced were over Actos, a type 2 diabetes drug found to increase the risk of bladder cancer. Research has found that the risk is much higher than with other similar drugs used to treat this type of diabetes. People who filed lawsuits against Takeda claimed that the company knew of the risks even while marketing and selling Actos.
As the lawsuits moved forward some of the plaintiffs were able to prove that Takeda did know about the risk of bladder cancer. Expert witnesses showed emails from the company as proof that management knew the risks and debated whether or not to include it on the drug’s label. This evidence led to a huge payout of $2.7 billion to settle numerous cases for individuals harmed by the drug.
Seeking Financial Compensation
If you have been harmed by a medication or a medical device, you may have success seeking and winning financial compensation. This money can help you pay medical bills incurred by the faulty drug; it can help you pay funeral expenses if you lost a loved one to a medication; it can also be included simply to compensate you for unnecessary pain and suffering.
To file a lawsuit requires legal expertise, so be sure to rely on the advice and guidance of a lawyer experienced in working with medical cases. If you do, you increase the odds that you will get the financial compensation that you need and deserve.