Tag Archives: Medication

Defective Pharmaceuticals: A Case Study

Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the effects of their products. Because almost all pharmaceutical products will cause at least some form of unintended negative side effects in at diethylstilbestrol least some users, companies are often able to avoid liability by placing disclaimers on their medications, giving users the ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to take a given drug. However, in many cases, the full range of side effects which a medication may cause do not become known until years after it has been released onto the market, leaving companies liable to lawsuits for the consequences that their products have had.

A recent case in Boston is an illustrative example of the ways in which pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for negative consequences of their products years after the release of a medication. Four sisters filed a suit against Eli Lilly and Co., a pharmaceutical firm based in Indianapolis, alleging that the breast cancer which all four women developed within a six-year span of each other occurred as a result of medications taken by their mother while she was pregnant with the women.

The medication, diethylstilbestrol or DES, was prescribed to pregnant women in the 1950s and 60s to help prevent miscarriages. In the 1970s, however, the medication was linked to vaginal cancer and subsequent studies demonstrated that it had no impact on the occurrence of miscarriages. As a result, the medication was removed from the market. However, it has continued to have negative effects on the children of women who used this pharmaceutical product, with more than 51 women currently pursuing lawsuits against the makers of this medication for illnesses that they may have developed as a result.

The pharmaceutical defects attorney representing these four women was able to successfully negotiate a settlement with the pharmaceutical company during the trial, for an undisclosed amount. While the attorney charged with representing Eli Lilly and Co. denied that the medication had caused the sisters’ health problems, he acknowledged that it was in the company’s best interests to resolve the case as soon as possible, explaining the settlement as an issue of corporate expediency rather than an acknowledgment of guilt.

As this case shows, pharmaceutical companies can be held accountable for the consequences that their products may have for consumers, even decades after the product in question has been discontinued. However, it’s important to remember that the statute of limitations in these types of cases strictly limits the period in which injury or illness victims may file for compensation after becoming aware that a medication may have caused their damages.

Medical Malpractice: A Faculty Case Study

Medical malpractice is a legal term, used to refer to injuries or illness that medical professionals may cause to patients by failing to comport with the standards expected of the medical profession. Medical malpractice can occur in a wide variety of different circumstances, sometimes arising as a result of a doctor’s failure to act and in other situations occurring because of careless errors or recklessness. Regardless of the cause, however, the victims of medical malpractice have a right to pursue compensation from those responsible for their damages through a malpractice lawsuit.

Determining liability for malpractice can sometimes be more complex than it may initially appear, however. Particularly when malpractice occurs at large medical institutions, such as hospitals, there is often a distinct possibility that more than one party contributed to the events resulting in an instance of malpractice. An examination of a specific case can help to illustrate the remarkable complexity of some medical malpractice cases.

The actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly were the proud parents of twins in November of 2007. However, when their children developed a staph infection, the hospital at which the twins had been delivered accidentally gave the two children an anti-coagulant medication several hundred times stronger than the medication which they were supposed to be administered. As a result, the children were rendered unable to clot blood, meaning that even a slight cut or other injury could prove fatal. For several days, the children’s lives were in imminent danger, after which the effects of the medication began to wear off and the threat gradually subsided.

Quaid and his wife, with the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney, filed a suit against both the hospital responsible for the medication error and the company which manufactured the medication. The errors on the part of the hospital were self-evident, if largely understandable, and a settlement was soon reached.

However, the lawsuit against the medication’s manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare, is more complicated. The hospital’s mistake, according to some observers, was not the first time this type of problem had occurred with this particular medication. In fact, the anti-coagulant which had been improperly administered to the Quaids’ twins had been associated with several other instances of medical malpractice, resulting in several cases of infant mortality. The problem, according to the suit, arose from the remarkable similarity between the packaging of different versions of the medication produced by Baxter Healthcare. The suit is currently still pending.

As this case should demonstrate, medical malpractice can and often does occur as the result of errors and mistakes on the parts of several different actors. In these circumstances, liability may be assessed to several groups.