Virtually everyone takes medications at some point in his or her life. Most of us rely on drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter, to help us with health issues large and small. The pharmaceutical industry is a half-trilliondollar industry that is heavily regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As consumers, we rely on the FDA to make sure the drugs we take are safe. But once in a while, something goes wrong. In some cases, a drug hits the market that fails to carry with it a warning of any number of potential dangers:
- Hazards of use with certain other drugs
- Dangers of excessive long-term consumption
- Withdrawal symptoms that could occur when quitting the drug
- Possible side effects of the medication
Asia's largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., is currently embroiled in a huge lawsuit involving the alleged side effects of Actos, a popular diabetes medication. Last June, the FDA reported that long-term Actos users are at an increased risk for developing bladder cancer. An Actos recall was issued in Germany and France, but the drug has not been recalled in the United States.
In recent months, thousands of plaintiffs have sued Takeda claiming the company withheld information about the risk of bladder cancer and failed to provide adequate warnings to consumers. In fact, so many lawsuits were filed that last week a government panel ordered that many of the lawsuits against Actos be consolidated and centralized in Louisiana to promote the efficient conduct of the litigation.
The Actos case is just one of several current cases involving popular medications.
"No one is suggesting that Big Pharma is trying to hurt anyone. But breakdowns occur, sometimes in the science and sometimes in informing consumers of the risks associated with their drugs," says attorney Martin Sweet of legal information website THELAW.TV ( http://www.thelaw.tv ).
"Consumers fighting these cases together with other similar victims is sometimes the best way to resolve litigation," explains Tampa, Florida medical malpractice attorney Devesh Tiwary of TiMedLaw Firm, P.A. ( http://thelaw.tv/tampa/firm/tiwary ). "The pharma industry understands the science and the regulatory environment and can overwhelm one victim, but when banding together we become harder to ignore".
Currently, there are lawsuits pending against the makers of various antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), including Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Lexapro. Studies have linked these antidepressants to serious birth defects.
"And we will hear about more drug-related lawsuits in the coming years," adds Sweet .
If you believe taking one of these medications has led to serious health issues for you or your child, you should consult an attorney who specializes in pharmaceutical cases and who can advise you whether you might be entitled to compensation. Understanding the complex nature of pharmaceutical lawsuits can be challenging for consumers, but you don't have to go at it alone.
THELAW.TV is a partner of ABC Action News and abcactionnews.com.