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Evidence of the benefits of modern medicine is everywhere. Prescription medications are used every day to treat various health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, pain management, and much more. While prescription drugs are incredibly beneficial in treating these various diseases and ailments, they can also cause risks to your health.  

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 7,000 to 9,000 people die in the U.S. every year because of prescription drug injuries and medication errors. The injuries and errors are defined as “…any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.”

Pile of medical supplies, pills, capsules and tablets.Some prescription medications have unseen side effects that can cause more harm than good, and unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies aren’t always forthcoming about the side effects. Or, in some instances, while your doctor and pharmacist are working with you, striving for good health, they could be the ones responsible for causing you to have a prescription drug injury. 

While we want to trust drug manufacturers, doctors and pharmacists to have our best interest in mind regarding prescription drugs, it’s essential to educate yourself about the benefits and risks of prescription medications. You should be proactive in discussing any concerns with your healthcare provider. This guide will give you a brief look at how prescription drug injuries occur, what you should do if injured, and some examples of various prescription drugs that have caused injuries.

How Prescription Drug Injuries Occur

There are a few ways in which prescription drugs can cause injuries. They can be caused by errors in prescribing, dispensing, and giving medications to pharmaceutical companies not reporting possible side effects

Doctor writing prescriptionWhen a patient receives a prescribed medication, the doctor is required by law to have confirmed that the drug or its potential side effects should not cause the patient to have any adverse reactions. The doctor must also consider that the prescription drug’s positive results will outweigh whatever possible risks to the patient’s health. The doctor also must inform the patient of the side effects and potential complications. If a patient feels that a doctor did not follow the appropriate steps, there could be a cause for a civil lawsuit based on informed consent or failure to warn.

In addition to physicians considering the potential effects a prescription medication can have on a patient, pharmacists must stay diligent, so there are no errors in dispensing prescription drugs. They must make sure they read and understand all doctor prescriptions and fill the order with the correct medication and the proper dosage. If the drug is given to the patient in a medical facility, the staff is responsible for administering the prescription correctly. 

Medication errors also can happen if there is incomplete drug testing. While prescription drugs must go through a lengthy development and approval process through the FDA, sometimes drugmakers rush to get a drug in the marketplace. Without taking ample time to research potential problems, the consumer could suffer from severe to even deadly side effects. 

What To Do If You Have Suffered a Prescription Drug Injury

Whether you have suffered a prescription drug injury caused by human error in a doctor’s office or pharmacy or due to a side effect, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Nothing matters more than your safety and good health. Also, document your experience, list details of conversations with doctors who prescribed the medication, where it was filled, when you began taking it, and details of the injury. The records can be used as evidence documenting that you followed directions while under medical care.

In addition to seeking medical attention, you should also consult a personal injury attorney who handles pharmaceutical drug injury cases to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to receive damages if a prescription drug has caused you harm. An experienced attorney will help you determine who was liable for the drug injury. Was it the manufacturer or a dispensing physician? The attorney will walk you through the proper steps and help you move forward with a potential lawsuit.

Prescription Drugs That Have Led To Injuries

Prescription drugs offer many benefits, and unfortunately, potential complications do arise. Here is a look at some medications that have caused prescription drug injuries:

Abilify: (Generic name, Aripiprazole). It is used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and some forms of autism. Side effects caused by taking Abilify include compulsive disorders such as gambling, eating and shopping. More than 2,800 Abilify lawsuits have been filed, and some cases have settled for a total of $534 million.

Elmiron: (Generic name, Pentosan polysulfate sodium). It is used to treat bladder inflammation (interstitial cystitis). However, it may lead to serious vision problems; specifically, a condition called pigmentary maculopathy. Symptoms include blurred vision, extreme sensitivity to light and dark, and difficulty transitioning from natural light to indoors. In June 2020, the FDA added a warning to the Elmiron label cautioning that long-term usage may cause retinal changes. The agency recommends regular eye examinations with retinal checks for patients who take the medication.

The Coronavirus Vaccine and Syringe injection in the hand in a medical glove on a pink gradient background.Injectafer: (Generic name, Ferric carboxymaltose). It is an intravenous medication used to treat iron deficiency anemia. Studies have shown that Injectafer can cause severe hypophosphatemia (Severe HPP), a sudden drop in phosphorous levels leading to severe medical conditions. Although the current FDA label warns of reactions after repeated exposure, some patients have reported severe reactions after one injection.

Invokana: (Generic name, Canagliflozin). It is used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Introduced to the market in 2013, Invokana was the first of a new class of medicines approved for sale in the U.S. that works by causing blood sugar to leave the body through urine. However, some patients who take this drug develop kidney damage and diabetic ketoacidosis (kidney failure).

Onglyza: (Generic name, Saxagliptin). It is used by many with Type 2 diabetes to keep the hormone incretin from breaking down, stimulating insulin production and slowing digestion. However, it has been determined to have a risk of causing heart failure. One study found that patients on this drug were nearly 30% more likely to be hospitalized for heart failure than those who did not take the medicine.

Risperdal: (Generic name, Risperidone). It is used to treat schizophrenia and the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. It has been determined to cause strokes, heart failure, diabetes and gynecomastia (an enlargement or swelling of breast tissue in males).

Xarelto: (Generic name, Rivaroxaban). It is used to prevent blood clots. However, patients, in particular, older patients taking this drug may experience uncontrollable and irreversible bleeding.

Zofran: (Generic name, Zuplenz). This drug has been beneficial when used as an anti-nausea medication, in particular for cancer patients. However, serious birth defects in newborns are associated with Zofran when given to pregnant women suffering from nausea. These include heart defects, cardiac murmurs and arrhythmia, cleft palates and kidney defects. 

Pogust Millrood is a plaintiffs’ law firm built around litigating pharmaceutical injury cases. Our focus is to protect those who are injured by the misconduct of others. We will fight tirelessly on behalf of the people in Southeast Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas who are harmed by pharmaceutical drugs. If you or a loved one has been negatively impacted by taking a prescription drug, contact us online or call 1-888-348-6787 to schedule a free, confidential case consultation.

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