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The Most Dangerous Drugs and Why They are the Subject of Class Action Lawsuits

Written by Berkowitz

dangerous drugs

Modern research has established a plethora of medications today – both prescribed and sold over-the-counter. These drugs are designed to prolong a person’s life, improve health, and even make life more enjoyable. While most medications released to the consumer market are safe, some are extremely dangerous.

Sadly, most of the hidden dangers are not seen until these medications have been used for some time – which means hundreds to thousands of victims could suffer adverse results, side effects, or deaths before it is noticed.

If you or a loved one is injured by a dangerous drug, you have the right to bring a product liability lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer or even the physician responsible.

Dangerous Drugs May be Pulled from the Market

Drugs are often removed from the market when the dangers outweigh the benefits. But some drugs that have been subjected to a class action lawsuit still remain on the market. Therefore, do not assume a class action will remove that drug from the marketplace entirely. Instead, it may force the manufacturer to create better warnings.

Decisions to remove a product from the market are made carefully. Sometimes the federal government, via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), forces the removal. Other times, the manufacturer chooses to voluntarily remove the product.

A Market Withdrawal is Not a Recall

If you are taking a dangerous drug and suffer an injury, realize that a market withdrawal is not the same as a recall. Sometimes, manufacturers can choose to remove the drug from the market without being forced to recall that product.

Recalls are forced actions. Market withdrawals are more of a business decision – often made to avoid any potential lawsuits in the future.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney

Dangerous drug lawsuits are not claims you file with the manufacturer yourself. Instead, you need an attorney to assist you with your case.

If you or a loved one suffers from unusual side effects, injuries, medical complications, or death because of a dangerous drug, it is imperative you speak with an attorney that specializes in malpractice and dangerous medications.

A product liability attorney is there to guide you through the process of filing your claim but also can help determine damages and seek those damages from all responsible parties.

What Are the Country’s Dangerous Drugs?

Dangerous drugs are everywhere. And it’s important to realize that a drug that causes injuries to a handful of people might not cause injury to everyone who uses it. However, here are some particular drugs that have been subjected to multiple lawsuits in the past.


Risperdal, an antipsychotic medication, was originally created to help patients cope with schizophrenia. However, the drug began to be prescribed off-label for those with bipolar disorder.

What Risks Are Associated with Risperdal?

  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS) – Is a severe nervous system condition that can be fatal. Symptoms can include high fever, stiff muscles, confusion, breathing and heart rate complications, and negative effects on the kidneys.
  • Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) – Creates a movement problem that forces muscles to move even when you are not attempting to move them.
  • High Blood Sugar Levels and Diabetes – Patients with diabetes may have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels.
  • Stroke – Stroke is another complication noticed with the drug, especially when the drug is used to treat patients with dementia.
  • Dangerous Drug Interactions – Risperdal is known to have deadly interactions with drugs like blood pressure modifying medications, other antipsychotics, dopamine antagonists, and Phenytoin.

The Lawsuit for Risperdal Injuries

Johnson & Johnson received one of the largest penalties in criminal and civil courts, totaling $2.2 billion for their unapproved use of Risperdal and by downplaying the risks associated with their drug.


Zoloft is an antidepressant that is still widely used and prescribed today. It’s an example of the fact that a class action lawsuit does not automatically mean that a product will be recalled and never used again.

In 2006, the FDA issued a warning to consumers regarding Zoloft. They warned that when this medication was taken in combination with some migraine treatments, the reaction was often fatal – or the patient would experience a severe form of Serotonin Syndrome.

Zoloft and a Heightened Risk for Suicide

Another lawsuit filed against the company came from the fact that the antidepressant could increase suicidal thoughts – especially in younger individuals. In 2004, the FDA forced the company to add a warning about the potential risk, and in June 2005 a public advisory was issued about the possibility of an increased risk of suicidal behavior in adults.

The Health Risks of Zoloft

The FDA has also issued alerts about the health risks stemming from Zoloft use. This includes an increased risk of bleeding, mania, weight loss, seizures, and sexual problems.


Pradaxa was once a highly prescribed blood thinning medication used in the United States. While effective, some patients reported that the drug did its job too well. This phenomenon resulted in unwanted bleeding episodes – some of which were life-threatening.

The Risk of Bleeding

Naturally, blood thinning medications will increase the chances of bleeding. However, numerous lawsuits against Pradaxa’s manufacturer state that the medication led to severe internal bleeding. This risk of excessive bleeding from Pradaxa is what forced the FDA to issue a warning.


Accutane is still prescribed today, and it is a popular prescription medication for treating severe acne. While there are benefits to Accutane, the drug is also known to cause severe birth defects. Therefore, physicians are now required to test their female patients for pregnancy regularly before renewing the prescription.

Numerous lawsuits have occurred against the manufacturer of Accutane citing the increased risk of birth defects.


Depo-Provera is an injectable form of birth control. However, the drug was linked to numerous health risks, especially in women over the age of 35. Some women were at a heightened risk of developing breast cancer, and there was an increased risk of developing blood clots while on the medication.


Lipitor, made by Pfizer, was a statin that helped manage cholesterol levels. However, Lipitor has now been linked to multiple side effects, especially with patients who suffer from other health conditions. Lipitor also increases the chances that a patient could develop Type 2 diabetes, liver damage, and suffer extreme memory loss.

Some patients have stated that Lipitor brought on Type 2 diabetes, and if the disease is not properly managed, it can lead to blindness, kidney damage, and other life-threatening health complications.

Testosterone Therapy Replacement

Testosterone replacement therapy is used by older men that wish to restore testosterone levels and overcome the effects of low testosterone.

Many men were prescribed these treatments over the past few years, at least partially due to aggressive marketing campaigns. Patients were told to talk with their physician about “Low T” and the medications claim to correct numerous associated symptoms. However, men that used these therapies were at an increased risk for stroke, and some men were at an increased risk for a heart attack while using the testosterone replacement gels.

In March 2015, the FDA changed their requirements and stated that manufacturers of these drugs must change their warning labels about the increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

The medications associated with these risks include:

  • Axiron
  • Androgel
  • Androderm
  • Depo-Testosterone
  • Delatestryl

SGLT2 Inhibitors

SGLT2 inhibitors, known as sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors, are a class of diabetic medications for those with Type 2 diabetes. Drugs within this class, combined with a healthy diet and exercise, have been shown to be effective.

Sadly, they also come with severe side effects and complications that were not known at the time of their release.

Complications and Risks of SGLT2 Inhibitors

  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Severe dehydration
  • Death
  • Bone fractures
  • Heart attack

May 2017, the FDA released a safety announcement that there was an increased risk for leg and foot amputations associated with the brands Invokana and Invokamet.

While all medications in this category were approved by the FDA, starting back as early as 2013, these medications have multiple warnings now because of their discovered risks.


Abilify hit the market in 2002, and since then there have been multiple lawsuits filed against the manufacturer of the medication. Those taking it claim that it creates compulsive eating, gambling, spending, and even heightened sexuality.

Abilify is an antipsychotic medication that allegedly had inadequate warning labels for those taking – or prescribing – the medication.

Essure Permanent Birth Control

Essure Permanent Birth Control was a system that consisted of two components. The physician placed these components inside a woman’s fallopian tubes and was supposed to permanently stop pregnancies in the future. After its release, several hundred women filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, Bayer, claiming that the devices caused serious and irreversible injuries.

Some common issues associated with Essure Permanent Birth Control include:

  • Pain or bleeding
  • Device migration and damage to tissues
  • Organ perforation
  • Device fractures
  • Birth defects
  • Complications that result in emergency surgery

So far, Bayer has approximately 3,700 lawsuits for their device.

FDA Approval Does Not Guarantee the Safety of the Drug

It is common to assume that if a drug is approved by the FDA, it must be safe.

The United States Food and Drug Administration is there to protect the United States consumer from dangerous food and medications. However, the reality is that an approval does not mean that something is guaranteed to be safe.

The screening of new medications is complex. Realize that FDA approval is based solely on the evidence that is provided to the FDA. Therefore, a company does their own studies – and presents these self-conducted studies to the FDA. The FDA assumes that the study and data received is accurate and thorough. There are no conflicting studies done by neutral parties for the FDA to consider.  This is clearly problematic, as there is an inherent conflict of interest that exists between the FDA’s job of keeping us safe, and the pharmaceutical company’s desire to have their drug approved.

How an Attorney Can Help

Dangerous drug lawsuits are highly complicated. They involve extensive knowledge of product liability law, but also malpractice law – especially if you are holding a hospital or healthcare provider responsible for your injuries.

Therefore, if you are the victim of a dangerous drug, contact an attorney immediately to see if you have a case. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna, LLC to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Call 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.