Each year, millions of Americans are prescribed medication to treat their illnesses, injuries or pain. From anti-anxiety to chronic pain medication, the pharmaceutical options are endless.
Trusting patients rely on their doctors’ expertise to find the safest and most effective drugs to treat their condition, but this doesn’t always happen. In many cases, the seriousness of a drug’s side effects clearly outweighs its benefits, leaving many patients to suffer debilitating or life-threatening side effects.
Moreover, patients prescribed one of today’s powerfully addictive opioid drugs for pain, such as Fentanyl, face additional health risks. The addictive nature of these drugs can cause susceptible patients to abuse their medication, leading to severe physical and mental injuries. Once addicted, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to stop. As a result, patients and their families suffer tremendous pain and loss while powerful drug companies continue to prosper.
Have You Suffered Serious Side Effects Due to a Dangerous Drug?
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a dangerous drug, we are deeply sorry for your loss. Our team represents people who have suffered serious side effects, illnesses, organ failures and deaths of family members or loved ones from the prescribed use of a prescription drug. You are not alone, and our team can help. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Brain Injury Law Center at (757) 244-7000 to receive a private consultation about your legal rights, completely free of charge.
The Problem with Today’s Prescription Drugs
You may ask, “Why are dangerous drugs approved for use?” The problem lies with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which can’t keep up with the influx of new drugs being pushed for approval. Instead, the FDA has a program that helps sort through the arrival of new drugs, allowing manufacturers to “fast track” their products to the market. This significantly cuts the time it takes for a drug to go from the research phase of development to the market, helping pharmaceutical companies to meet business goals yet increasing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from reactions to insufficiently tested drugs. Unsafe and highly addictive products are sold and prescribed without being properly tested. As a result, more than 200,000 innocent people die each year from adverse drug reactions caused by many of these drugs.
Opioid Epidemic Compounds the Existing Dangerous Drug Problem
Dangerous drugs of all types are a serious problem in our country, but one class of drugs leads the way in the rapidly rising rate of injuries and loss of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a powerful class of pain drugs – opioids – claims the lives of 91 people everyday. This does not account for those who commonly suffer traumatic brain injuries from the drug’s highly addictive nature. One in particular, Fentanyl, is an overly prescribed synthetic opioid that can cause disastrous harm. It is similar to heroine and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Because of the high potency of these drugs, finding the right pain medication can become extremely complicated and dangerous. The potential for serious, permanent injury or loss of life increases drastically as a result of overmedicated or unmonitored prescription drug use.
Risk of Overdose
Opiates and opioids are most often prescribed to treat chronic pain. They are a class of depressants, meaning the drugs slow down breathing and heart rate. The most significant risk of an overdose is lack of oxygen to the brain, which is vital for brain function. When oxygen supply is inadequate, the brain becomes hypoxic, leading to severe and quick damage.
Similarly, when there is no oxygen supply to the brain, it leads to anoxic injury. In an opiate overdose, the victim usually becomes unconscious and the central nervous system depressed. The body fails to breathe and deliver oxygen to the brain, leading to severe brain damage and even death.
Sadly, people of all ages are at risk for being affected by the opioid epidemic. From teens stealing pills from their parents to adults becoming addicted to their prescriptions, dependence does not discriminate against any age group or demographic.
Risk of Nerve Damage
Opioid overuse can also lead to serious nerve damage that results in short-term paralysis.
Excessive opioid use can cause:
- Injuries to arms, legs, and other extremities
- Long-term nerve damage
- Frostbite from nerve damagebeing unable to feel the cold
- Damaged lungs
Opioid overuse can also lead to erratic behavior and mental instability, leading to:
- Injuries from acting on ideas of self-harm
- Injuries from car accidents as a result of drug abuse
- Broken bones as a result of increased risky behavior
Other Drugs Linked to Adverse and Dangerous Side Effects
Opioids are certainly not the only dangerous drugs under scrutiny for damaging countless people. For years, medications designed to treat a variety of aliments have been linked to serious risks and side effects:
Released in 1982, this drug is used to treat severe acne. It is known to cause depression and psychosis, and in some cases, suicide. In 1998, the FDA notified doctors that they should watch for these side effects in patients.
Approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Arava was released in 1996 and works to modify arthritis, but not cure it. Patients who have been treated with Arava have suffered serious liver injuries, hepatitis, hepatic failure, and acute hepatic necrosis. In 2002, an advocacy group requested that the FDA recall the drug due to its severe side effects.
A cholesterol-lowering drug approved in 1997, maker Bayer Pharmaceutical Division voluntarily took the drug off the U.S. market due to a reported fatal muscle reaction known as rhabdomyolysis.
Approved in 1998 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and intestinal polyps, health concerns surrounding Celebrex have been raised as to whether the drug increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Developed in 1973, Cytotec is used to treat ulcers as well as to induce labor. When administered to pregnant women, the drug has been found to cause abortion, premature birth, birth defects, or uterine rupture.
Approved in 1995, this drug is a prescription pain medication containing the powerful narcotic, fentanyl. Numerous reports of fatal fentanyl overdoses have been associated with the patch. The FDA issued an alert in 2005 warning of the risk of these overdoses. In 2006, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay almost $1 million in damages to a family of a Texas woman who died after receiving a lethal dose of fentanyl through the Duragesic Patch.
Approved in 1998, Enbrel is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Adverse reactions reported include serious infections, such as sepsis.
Used to control weight or to help with weight loss, the FDA banned the sale of supplements containing ephedrine in 2004 after serious side effects that included heart attack, stroke, and ephedra-related deaths were reported.
Prescribed for the treatment of obesity and refers to the combined use of fenfluramine and phentermine, some patients developed heart valve disease after taking Fen Phen. The FDA has since issued a public health advisory relating to the use of this drug.
In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory after reports of liver failure and death related to Ketek, after it was prescribed to treat community acquired pneumonia. It was approved by the FDA in 2004.
Marketing of this drug has been restricted by the FDA due to gastrointestinal adverse effects as well as death. Originally approved by the FDA in 2000, it is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
This anti-obesity drug was originally developed in 1988 and marketed until 2010. It has been associated with cardiovascular events and strokes.
Developed in 1917, Oxycontin is an opioid used to treat pain. Because of its high addictive properties, the drug has been associated with overdose and death.
This drug, first approved in 1995, is a hormone replacement drug used to treat postmenopausal conditions with a combination of estrogen and progestin. It has been shown to increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and breast cancer.
Used to treat nighttime heartburn by increasing motility in the upper gastrointestinal tract, Propulsid was discovered by Janssen Pharmaceutical in 1980. It is now the target of FDA advisories to physicians regarding related cardiac problems.
Introduced in the late 1990s, Resulin was used to treat type 2 diabetes but was pulled from the market in 2000 after it was found linked to liver damage and death.
Serzone was first marketed in 1995 but was withdrawn from the market in 2004 due to incidents of liver damage. The medication is used to treat depression, but has received reports of life-threatening hepatic failure.
This compound was used in vaccines and medicines starting in the early 1930’s and contains a high level of mercury content. Mercury has been found toxic and causes serious developmental and neurological problems in children.
Used to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis, acute pain in adults, and painful menstrual cycles, Vioxx is linked to reports of stomach ulcers, heart attack, stroke, and liver damage. The drug was approved by the FDA in 1999 and recalled in 2004 due to safety concerns.
Do you have a case?
At Brain Injury Law Center, we represent clients who have suffered as a result of prescription drugs such as Accutane, Arava, Baycol, Celebrex, Cytotec, Enbrel, Ephedra, Fen Phen, Lotronex, Meridia, Oxycontin, Prempro, Premarin, Propulsid, Rezulin, Serzone, Thimerosal, Vioxx and many others that present known hazards to the public.
If you or a loved one has taken a prescription medication that led to serious injury, please call us today. We have devoted much of our practice to exposing the negligence of large pharmaceutical companies, and you and your family deserve to be compensated for your losses. If you are uncertain about whether you want to pursue legal action, we can help you understand what your options are moving forward. For a private consultation, call us today at (757) 244-7000 and we will answer any questions you have, free of charge.