Oregon Defective Products: Are There Dangerous Drugs in your Medicine Cabinet?

In a landmark defective products case, on July 2nd there was an announcement that one of the world’s largest manufacturers of prescription drugs, GalaxoSmithKline, had agreed to plead guilty to three criminal charges involving three of the drugs they sell should be a cause for concern for everyone. The company has agreed to pay a $3 billion fine for promoting its best-selling anti-depressants for unapproved uses and for failing to report safety data about one of its diabetes drugs. The company had been caught promoting the use of Paxil for use in children by helping publish a medical journal article that falsely reported safety data from a clinical trial. The company’s drug, Wellbutrin, was promoted for weight loss and sexual dysfunction when it had only been approved to safely treat depression. Its third drug, Avandia, is marketed after the company failed to report to the FDA that the drug was associated with heart risks.

The lesson from this is that it is not safe to assume that medications are safe merely because they are prescribed by your doctor. Drug companies are known to misrepresent their drugs to doctors and to encourage doctors to prescribe particular medications for paying for doctors to attend seminars in exotic locations.

In May 2012, Abbott Laboratories, another major drug manufacturer, agreed to pay a $1.6 billion fine over improper marketing of the anti-seizure drug, Depakote.

Even when the prescription drugs are safe, consumers have to be vigilant to protect against all-too-frequent mistakes made by pharmacies in filling a doctor’s prescription. These errors can have serious, and sometimes fatal, consequences.

In the last few years, our law firm has handled cases for clients who have suffered severe kidney damage as a result of pharmaceutical products improperly marketed. We have seen several cases of prescription errors made by local pharmacies that have resulted in our clients either taking the wrong medicine or in taking the right medicine at five times the dosage recommended by the doctor. Mistakes at pharmacies are most often the result of human error. The mismarketing of pharmaceuticals from the manufacturer is usually the result of the manufacturer’s desire to put profit over safety.

Unusual or unexplained physical symptoms noticed after taking prescription drugs should always be investigated to determine if normal side effects are involved or if there has been a prescription error or perhaps a medication improperly manufactured or marketed.

Unfortunately, these huge fines will probably just be passed on to the consumer as a “cost of doing business.” Until the government starts holding pharmaceutical company executives personally responsible, we will all be at risk for the next round of dangerous medications. – Jim Nelson – defective products attorney in Albany, Oregon.


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