According to a news article, the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear a drug-maker’s appeal in a case that cost the drug company $124 million for falsely marketing a prescription medication. By declining the appeal, the court affirmed a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that reduced the company’s damages from $327 million to $124 million, but it did not overturn a jury’s verdict that the drug company had improperly marketed the medication.
Cases come to the supreme court in one of two ways. First, a case can be appealed to the court from a lower federal court ruling. These courts are called federal circuit courts. Second, a case can come to the supreme court from a state’s highest court. In either case, if the supreme court does not accept the appeal, the lower court’s decision stands.
What Happened in This Case?
The drug at issue in the South Carolina case is called Risperdal. Risperdal was introduced in 1994 for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is also given to patients with autism who suffer from irritability and aggressiveness. Side effects of the medication include diabetes, stroke, and weight gain.
In the South Carolina case, the state sued the drug-maker, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, for minimizing the risk of diabetes associated with taking the medication, and for improper claims that the drug was safer than other medications in its class. The jury agreed with the state and found the company liable for false marketing practices.
In addition to the case in South Carolina, the drug-maker has also been sued for similarly downplaying another significant side effect — namely, the growth of breast tissue in young males. In some cases, patients have required surgery to correct the problem, and many have suffered emotional problems as a result of the condition.
Lawsuits Against Drug Companies
When a state sues a drug company, it often seeks to recover damages by claiming Medicaid fraud. States may also sue for damages to cover the cost of treating side effects not properly warned against by the drug company.
Of course, patients can sue drug companies too. It is a known fact that drug companies spend significantly more money on marketing than research, and the result is that they often overreach in their marketing efforts. Under Illinois law, drug companies may be liable for damages if they knew or should have known of dangerous side effects, and they either downplayed these side effects or failed to provide sufficient warnings.
Drug companies may also be liable to patients if they do not adequately test a drug before bringing it to market, or if they withhold damaging information from clinical trials in order to increase a drug’s marketability. Finally, a drug-maker may be liable if a patient is injured because a drug is somehow contaminated during the manufacturing process.
In cases in which a patient is injured by a defective drug, he or she may recover damages for out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages. Equally important, patients may recover for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and a general loss of enjoyment in life. In Illinois, there is no limit to the amount of damages a person can recover for these non-economic damages.
Have You Developed Side Effects Without Proper Warning?
Patients have a right to know what the side effects are of their medications. They have a right to decide whether a given medication is worth the pain or discomfort it may cause them. When drug companies take it upon themselves to deny patients this right by withholding critical medical information, they must be held accountable. That is our conviction. The lawyers at Moll Law Group believe strongly in your rights as a patient and a consumer. We have seen too many patients injured because of drug companies that, despite their flowery commercials to the contrary, care more about making money than making you healthy. When a drug company’s greed has caused you to suffer, we promise to do everything in our power to help you recover compensation for your losses. We believe that by helping you, we are helping improve the lives of patients who would otherwise suffer. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at (312) 462-1700.
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