Just like cars, electronics, and household appliances, drugs are products that are designed and marketed by manufacturers in order to turn a profit. Also just like other products, drugs can – and do – come with various types of defects. While no one likes to think about their medications making them worse instead of better, the reality is that countless people each year suffer – and in some cases die – as a direct result of taking defective drugs.
Drug Defects: Design, Manufacture, and Failure to Warn
When pursuing financial compensation for a dangerous drug defect, it is critical to establish the nature of the defect claimed. While defective drug cases are different from other types of injury claims in that victims do not need to be able to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to win compensation, victims do still need to prove that a defect in fact exists. This starts with determining the type of defect that caused the injury.
There are three generally-recognized types of product defects that apply to prescription medications and other drugs:
- Design defects – In some cases, a drug is defective in its laboratory design and chemical composition. In this situation, we say that the drug is “inherently dangerous,” because even if it is manufactured and labeled properly, it is still going to put consumers at risk.
- Manufacturing defects – In other cases, drugs that are not inherently dangerous can become dangerous when there is a problem during the manufacturing process. From quality control issues in the factory to shipping issues that damage pills in transit, there are numerous manufacturing defects that can create health risks for consumers.
- Failure to warn – The third type of dangerous drug defect is known as “failure to warn.” In short, drug manufacturers are required by law to label their drugs accurately and market them appropriately. This means, among other things: (1) identifying all known side-effects and other risks, and (2) marketing drugs only for their FDA-approved uses. If a manufacturer steps out of bounds with its product labeling or marketing, it can be held liable for harm suffered by unsuspecting consumers.
Each of these defects can take numerous forms. Unfortunately, there is little that people can do to protect themselves from defective drugs. In addition, in many cases it can take years for the side effects of a defective drug to start to show. If you experience unexpected side effects after taking a medication, the best thing you can do is seek medical attention as soon as possible. Be sure to let your doctor know what medications you’ve been taking, as without this information your doctor may not think to look for the signs of a defective drug.