Are Pharmaceutical Companies Disregarding Patient Safety?
Manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe for everyone to use. This duty is particularly important when an individual depends on a product to stay healthy. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies, in their rush to get a prescription drug to the market, will ignore scientific evidence of the potential dangers of the new drug.
As the recent restriction of the drug Avandia demonstrates, dangerous prescription drugs can make it to market and cause serious injury even with government oversight. When a patient suffers serious injury or dies because of a dangerous prescription drug, the drug's manufacturer may be liable.
In 1999, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), used to treat Type 2 diabetes. The drug was widely prescribed and became one of GSK's most important products, netting the company nearly $3 billion in 2006 alone. Despite a 2007 study indicating that patients taking the drug experienced a 43 percent increase in heart attacks and documented cases where patients suffered severe side effects, GSK kept the drug on the market. Finally, after years of study, the FDA has stepped in and restricted use of drugs containing Avandia's active ingredient.
Drug Manufacturers Too Quick to Market?
Unfortunately, the story of Avandia is all too familiar. Because the cost of developing drugs is so high, pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest to push drugs out to the market, even when data indicates it may not be in the best interests of patient safety. Even worse, the government agencies responsible for assuring the safety of these drugs often cave to industry pressure and allow the marketing of drugs that are not proven to be safe.
Manufacturers, including pharmaceutical companies, have a legal duty to produce products that are reasonably safe for their intended uses and other foreseeable uses. If a manufacturer has reason to know that a product is unsafe or if it has not adequately tested a product that causes injuries, it may be liable.