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Prescription Drug Injury

The Law Firm of Reed & Mansfield, Attorneys  Personal Injury & Property Damage, Las Vegas, NV


Million Dollar Advocates Forum

There are two kinds of prescription drug injuries:

First, you may be given the wrong drug. If this error occurred at the pharmacy level, we can handle your claim, but only if there are serious damages. An error that is quickly discovered is not a real claim. To cut down on these mistakes, many pharmacies will now print out on the pill bottle a tablet description. For example, a WalMart pill bottle containing AmLodipine Besylate 5MG tablets made by Mylan may also have on the label at the bottom right:


meaning that the pill should be round and blue with "M" on one side and "A9" on the other side. This makes it easy for the consumer to check that the correct pill was put int he bottle.

If the doctor prescribed the wrong drug, that is a medical malpractice claim and we are currently not accepting medical malpractice cases.

Second, a prescription drug may ultimately turn out to be more harmful than helpful leading to lawsuits against the manufacturer. A major example of a class of prescription drugs that were once thought to be helpful and are now known to increase the risk of breast and other cancer is hormone replacement therapy drugs. At first these drugs were thought to, or at least promoted as, providing helpful benefit to women during and after menopause. In fact, we now know many of these drugs can substantially increase the risk of breast and endometrial cancer. There are many other instances of prescription drugs turning out to have terrible side effects.

However, a mere bad effect by itself doesn't lead to a claim. When you watch tv you see all sorts of ads for prescription drugs and warnings that the drugs could cause side effects and even death. A successful lawsuit against a drug maker usually requires that the drug maker concealed some test results that led to FDA approval of the drug, or failed to warn of side-effects, or failed to design a proper testing program. Alternatively, it might be shown that while the testing that led to FDA approval was adequate, subsequent reports of side-effects were ignored or not properly evaluated and reported to the FDA. Punitive damages can sometimes be obtained if it can be shown that the drug company, in its pursuit of profit, downplayed or ignored the dangerous side effects.

The Nevada Supreme Court in 2010 upheld total awards of approximately $80,778,909 to three women who developed breast cancer after years of taking Wyeth Pharmaceuticals' hormone replacement therapy. Wyeth v. Rowatt, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. 44 (Nov. 24, 2010).

More than two thirds of this total award was for punitive damages. This was based on proof that Wyeth deliberately tried to conceal the cancer danger of its drugs. For example, European regulators forced it to include warnings on its product sold in Europe, but in the United States Wyeth spent money to downplay the concerns about the therapy causing breast cancer.

Nevada has traditionally been a favorable state to file lawsuits against drug companies and other makers of mass produced products. An interesting aspect of the above case is that the drug company argued unsuccessfully that since the women began taking their drugs in different states, a lawsuit was improper in Nevada. The Nevada Supreme Court held that since the women were diagnosed with breast cancer in Nevada, it would be considered to be the state in which the injury occurred; therefore, filing their lawsuits in Nevada was proper.

An interesting theory of liability was used against Teva Pharmaceutical which sold to doctors a liquid anesthetic in sizes that were larger than generally used a single dose. Doctors were supposed to use each container only once and throw away the extra drug. One Las Vegas doctor was tempted to save money by using one container on two patients instead of one and unfortunately blood from the first patient to the second sometimes got transferred causing the transmission of hepatitus C and other diseases. The Clark County district court jury found Teva liable for what was argued was a dangerous packaging arrangement. 

If you feel you have been very seriously injured by a prescription drug, give us a call and we will be glad to advise you if we feel you have a case.


Pharmacy Error:

Occasionally a pharmacy may make an error in filling a prescription. Unless serious injury results from that error the case is not worth much. "Almost killing" someone who escapes any real injury is not a valuable claim in the context of an error.