Many people who used the antibiotic Zithromax have good reason to file lawsuits. A few individual cases have been started against Pfizer, the maker of the brand name drug, as well as companies who make the generic version, azithromycin. None have yet been settled or concluded, but there may be many more suits to come with favorable outcomes for the plaintiffs.
More Zithromax lawsuits may be on the horizon because some patients who were harmed by it believe that they never knew about the risks. Some of these people have suffered from liver damage, a rare skin condition, and even heart failure. This antibiotic has been on the market for decades, and yet warnings of certain risks only came out one or two years ago. If you were harmed by azithromycin or Zithromax, you may be able to file a lawsuit and seek compensation.
Zithromax and Its Uses
Zithromax is a brand name antibiotic made by Pfizer. The generic drug, azithromycin, was discovered in the 1980s by Croatian researchers at Pilva and the rights to it were eventually bought by Pfizer. Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic and it kills bacterial cells to treat infections. The drug interferes with the proteins in bacterial cells that are needed for growth. This interference ultimately leads to the death of the bacteria.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer’s Zithromax in 1992. The initial approval was for the treatment of sinus infections, bronchitis, and certain skin infections in adults. Later the FDA approved it for more uses including cervical infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other infections in adults, as well as ear infections, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and pneumonia in children. Off-label doctors sometimes also use Zithromax to treat other infections including some sexually transmitted infections.
One of the reasons that Zithromax has been popular and a good seller for Pfizer is that a course of treatment takes half as much time as other antibiotics. Most antibiotics must be taken once a day for ten days. Pfizer sells Zithromax in a Z-pak, which includes just five tablets, one each day for five days.
Complications Lead to Zithromax Lawsuits
As an antibiotic there are some typical side effects of Zithromax like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and cramping. There are some other, more serious, possible side effects and it is these that have led some patients to file lawsuits against Pfizer for failing to warn them about the risks.
One of these is liver toxicity. It is not common, but very serious. Zithromax has the potential to be toxic to the liver, especially in people with liver damage, hepatitis, or liver inflammation. The toxicity caused by Zithromax may be rare, but when it happens it is deadly serious. There have been reports of patients who died of liver failure after using the antibiotic.
Another potential complication with Zithromax is heart failure. After two decades on the market a study came out that brought this issue to the public. The study, published in 2012, found that people using azithromycin to treat infections are more likely to die from a cardiovascular event than those using a different type of antibiotic.
Evidence of heart issues also came from individual cases in the FDA’s adverse events reporting system. Analysis of these reports led to the conclusion that azithromycin can cause an irregular heartbeat in some patients. This outcome is especially problematic for people already at risk for some type of heart failure or heart attack. Some people have died because of it.
The FDA took the evidence and used it to issue a warning about Zithromax and other azithromycin products. The warning came out in 2012 and stated that some people taking the antibiotic may be at risk for heart failure. Pfizer began a new study as a result of the warning and in 2013 further confirmed the risk. This in turn resulted from another, stronger warning from the FDA that stated azithromycin could change the electrical activity in the heart, causing a possibly fatal irregular heartbeat.
There is also evidence that very rarely azithromycin may trigger a skin condition called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. It is rare, but serious and causes flu-like symptoms and a painful rash with blisters. It affects the skin and mucous membranes. The affected skin dies and flakes off, which can be very painful and may cause lasting damage.
None of these serious possible side effects of Zithromax are common, but for those patients who have experienced them, they have been life-altering. A few people have taken the step to start Zithromax lawsuits against Pfizer, or even azithromycin lawsuits against the makers of the generic drug. In one such case a woman filed a suit against a generic maker claiming that she was not warned of the risk of liver damage.
This woman suffered such severe liver damage that her entire liver had to be removed and replaced with a donated organ. The woman suffered seriously from the failure of her liver and going through major transplant surgery. She seeks compensation to cover the exorbitant costs of her medical treatment and care and blames the drug maker for not warning her that this was a possible outcome of using the antibiotic. Other individual cases have been started against Pfizer with similar accusations.
Potential for Future Lawsuits
Any of the serious complications caused by Zithromax may trigger lawsuits brought against Pfizer and generic drug manufacturers. There is a huge potential for future cases brought by individuals because there are serious risks associated with using the antibiotic that were not made public until decades after the drug came on the market. Millions of people were treated with Zithromax and didn’t know of the risks.
If you took this antibiotic and suffered from heart problems, liver damage, or Stevens-Johnson syndrome, you may be able to make a case for compensation. Getting seriously ill can lead to expensive medical bills, lost earnings at work, pain and emotional damage, and other costs. You may also want to file a suit seeking punitive damages. Drug companies are responsible for warning patients about risks and if Pfizer failed to do so, you may have a right to seek compensation.