To what extent can pharmaceutical companies be held liable for their prescription medications?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

To what extent can pharmaceutical companies be held liable for their prescription medications?

My daughter had been taking Imitrex/sumatriptan for two years with no unpleasant side effects. When another medication increased her frequency of migraines from a few a month to a few a week, she started taking sumatriptan about three times a week. She developed a sudden panic disorder, unbeknownst to us and her doctors,from taking this amount. Her doctors treated her panic disorder from the perspective of her being at the age in which panic disorders are most common–freshman in high school. Her psychiatrist prescribed anti-anxiety meds SSRIwhich made her condition worse. It was not until three months later when she had been off sumatriptan for a month and she took one and had a horrible panic attack that I figured it out. When I called her psychiatrist, she stated, ‘Oh, right, it’s an SSRI.’ I realized that my daughter had about 15 of 20 symptoms for serotonin toxicity. This doctor, who was aware of my daughter’s Imitrex intake, had not figured that out after three months of treatment. She told us that her levels would normalize after a few months, but one year later, she still experiences constant anxiety. The Imitrex information did not state anything about panic disorders. In your opinion, can the doctor’s failure to recognize serotonin toxicity as the cause of my daughter’s panic disorder make her liable to any degree?

Asked on July 1, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Colorado

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If the pharmaceutical company failed to provide an applicable warning about the use and/or side effects of its drug, it is liable for negligence. Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable pharmaceutical company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
Prior to filing a lawsuit ( assuming no applicable warning as discussed above was provided), it may be possible to settle the case with the pharmaceutical company's insurance carrier. Your daughter's claim filed with that insurance carrier should include her medical bills and medical reports. Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement. The medical reports will document the nature and extent of her condition and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.
If the case is settled with the insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, reject them and file a lawsuit for negligence against the pharmaceutical company for negligence on behalf of your daughter. You will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on behalf of your daughter because she is a minor.
If the case is NOT settled, the lawsuit for negligence must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your daughter will lose her rights forever in the matter.
 
Medical malpractice is negligence on the part of the doctor. Negligence is the failure to exercise due care, which is that degree of care that a reasonable medical practitioner in the community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm.
Prior to filing a lawsuit for negligence against the doctor on behalf of your daughter, it may be possible to settle the case with the doctor's malpractice insurance carrier. Your daughter's claim should include her medical bills and medical reports.
See the above discussion regarding compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering based on the medical reports.
If the case is settled with the malpractice insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the malpractice insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the doctor on behalf of your daughter. You will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on behalf of your daughter as previously discussed.
If the case is NOT settled, the lawsuit for negligence against the doctor must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your daughter will lose her rights forever in the matter.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption