Too often, a pharmaceutical company will create an unreasonably
dangerous product by failing to properly research a drug's
possible risks before placing it on the market. In such
instances, without being warned in advance of using the drug,
human beings serve as unwitting guinea pigs.
A drug's approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is
no guarantee of its safety and won’t shield a drug manufacturer
Before selling pharmaceuticals to the public, drug manufacturers
are obligated to:
· Understand the drug's dangers and possible side effects
· Assure that the public is informed of the risks
The means used to thoroughly inform the public vary with the
nature of the pharmaceutical. With non-prescription drugs, the
manufacturer's warning is conveyed to users by proper labeling
and enclosures. Simple written warnings however, without a
physician's intervention between manufacturer and consumer, will
not render all pharmaceuticals safe. The use of certain
medications requires a doctor's supervision.
Prescription drugs represent a class of pharmaceuticals, which
require the supervision of a learned intermediary, such as a
physician. With such drugs, the manufacturer has a duty to warn
only the intermediary, not the consumer. In most cases, as long
as the drug company properly informs the physician of the drug's
dangers, the company has fulfilled its duty to the public.
Doctors’ Responsibilities To Patients Before a doctor prescribes a pharmaceutical to a patient, he or
she is duty-bound to tell the patient of the drug's risks, so
that the patient is capable of making an informed decision in
determining whether or not to take the drug. If a doctor fails
in his or her duty to relay the manufacturer's warning to you
the patient, the doctor will usually be responsible, not the
Doctors know that when they prescribe drugs, their knowledge
concerning the medication is generally far superior to the
patient's. Consequently, a physician understands that the
patient ordinarily relies heavily on the doctor's judgment. Once
the doctor has been advised of a prescription drug's hazards,
the doctor and not the patient, is in a position to understand
whether the drug is appropriate for a particular patient.
Likewise, the physician should take precautions against
over-prescription. Because the doctor is well aware that the
patient normally relies heavily on the doctor's judgment in
prescribing such drugs, the doctor should readily accept
responsibility for the patient's safety with regard to the
Pharmacists’ Responsibility to Consumers Pharmacists are legally liable for mistakes made in filling
prescriptions. With the volume of prescriptions increasing, many
pharmacies are understaffed and exhausted workers make more
As online pharmacies flourish, consumers can lessen the chances
of getting a bad prescription by following these guidelines:
· Find out whether your state requires prescriptions prescribed
only by a physician properly licensed in your state
· Check the website to see if it’s registered with the National
Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), with the presence of a
Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal somewhere
on the website.
· Be wary of websites offering their own physicians for
consultation. You have no way of knowing the physician’s record
or practice, and the physician has no way of knowing about your
pre-existing conditions and other factors which could affect
what type of medication should be prescribed.
· Watch out for hidden charges such as a “consultation fee” and
high shipping costs
· Don’t agree to any “waiver of liability” waiving your legal
rights against the pharmacy. You should never have to agree to
such a waiver in order to purchase prescription drugs.
Suing for Drug Injuries In suing a drug manufacturer for injuries caused by
pharmaceuticals, the usual theories of products liability apply:
· Strict liability
· Breach of warranty
If the doctor's conduct is to blame, a negligence suit in
medical malpractice is justified.
Drug manufacturers and drug-prescribing physicians hold
positions of trust and should expect that if their negligence
causes damage, they will be held responsible.
Medication malpractice and drug injuries. Drug companies owe
consumers a duty to assure that their drugs, medications and
medical devices are reasonably safe when used as intended.
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