Drugs are discovered, developed, engineered, studied, and marketed for every conceivable medical condition. Some drugs are sold to alleviate specific symptoms of a disease process. Others are prescribed to cure or reverse acute or chronic conditions. Medical science has made remarkable advances over the last few centuries, and advances continue to accelerate. The benefits of pharmacology have improved the lives of millions of patients. The side effects, however, have negatively impacted just as many lives.
No drug is completely safe. Every person is unique, with their own uniquely encoded genetics. Environmental factors, lifestyle choices, diet, physical activity, comorbidities, and co-existing treatments, all influence how a person will react to a a prescribed medication. Double-blind, clinical trials conducted before a drug is introduced to the general public can reveal potential dangers. With adequate study, the potential dangers can be proven to be detrimental to most potential patients. Oftentimes, detrimental and hazardous side effects are not apparent until after a drug is on the market.
The mechanism of action for many drugs is not fully understood. All that is know when a drug is offered for sale is that it has beneficial effects. Potential side effects are also known, but not to the widespread extent that they often prove to be. Pharmacology is a statistical science that relies on reported data to draw reliable conclusions as to a drug’s benefits and hazards.
The range of drugs that are used in medical practice cannot be listed in this short a space. Some drugs are in common use, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Other potentially dangerous drugs are more esoteric and used only in specific circumstances, such as Avelox, Boniva, Chantix, Cymbalta, Depakote, Fosamax, Humira, Lariam, Nexavar, Pradaxa, Qualaquin, Sprycel, Symbyax, Topamax, Vytorin, Zocor, Zofran, or Zyban. All of these drugs have been implicated in legal actions to provide compensation for unintended injuries suffered after the drug was used as directed.
Most patients will never need to be prescribed 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, adrenal cortical steroids, amebicides, antiviral interferons, bile acid sequestrants, bone reabsorption inhibitors, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, CD20 monoclonal antibodies, chloride channel activators, colony stimulating factors, or corticotropins. That is just a random selection of drug classes starting with the letters A through C. There are many, many more.
People who suffer from disease look for safe, reliable relief of their condition. They expect the pharmaceutical industry, prescribing physicians, pharmacists, and trustworthy government oversight to provide them with relief. The first tenet of the Hippocratic Oath is that a patient should not be done harm in the course of treatment. It is the responsibility of every party involved in the delivery of healthcare, not just physicians, to adhere to this maxim.
No matter what legal prescribed drug a patient takes to improve their health status, they should be able to do so with the reasonable expectation that they will not experience negative effects to their quality of life. People take drugs to heal, not to damage their lives, their livelihoods, or their ability to enjoy life to its fullest potential. When a medication impedes that enjoyment, through no fault of the patient, someone must be held responsible. In cases of product liability, it is usually the drug’s manufacturer, marketer, or distributor. In cases of malpractice, it may be the prescribing physician, the dispensing pharmacist, or the institution that allowed for drugs to be taken under their oversight. Skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, chain pharmacies, inpatient facilities, and rehabilitative hospitals should all have detailed policies and protocols in place to recognize adverse effects when they occur, and be able to anticipate them.
Whenever personal medical injury is incurred due to dangerous drug use, patients should contact a reputable medical product liability lawyer. Professional liability attorneys who specialize in dangerous drug injury work to represent their clients’ interest in achieving fair and justified compensation for damage done due to following a manufacturer’s guidelines, a physician’s orders, a pharmacist’s advice, or a nurse’s instructions.
No one should suffer in silence when there are legal options to correct injury. A potent medication should be expected to be safe as well as effective. When it causes more complications than what is supposed to alleviate, the law is on the patient’s side.