Articles Posted in Prescription Drug Injuries

Earlier this year, a study was released showing that certain heartburn medications – known as proton-pump inhibitors – can cause irreversible damage to those who take the medication. The study was released by a respected medical journal and evaluated a group of about 250,000 patients. The group of medications known as proton-pump inhibitors includes the popular medications Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

Assorted PillsAccording to a news report released earlier this year, those who have taken these medications have a 20-50% chance of developing chronic kidney disease. However, there are almost 13 million Americans who are prescribed proton-pump inhibitors. It is estimated that up to 70% of these patients are inappropriately prescribed the medication, and many long-term users could cease using the medication. The study found that those users who took the medication twice a day had a 46% chance of developing kidney-related ailments, while users who took the medication only once a day had only a 15% chance of developing side effects.

The harmful effects of taking proton-pump inhibitors most notably include chronic kidney damage, which can result in the body’s inability to effectively filter blood. This can lead to nephritis, the need for regular dialysis, and even the need for a kidney replacement. In addition, patients may suffer from heart problems, obesity, and high blood pressure.

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Recently, a man was prescribed Valsartan, a medication used to treat high blood pressure, and the pharmacy mistakenly gave the man a container with both Valsartan pills and Lithium pills. The pills were the same color but different shapes. The man took the medication as prescribed. When the man’s wife discovered the mistake a few days later and brought back the container, a pharmacist confirmed that the container had both pills inside. The pharmacy then set aside the medication and later destroyed it, in accordance with the company’s policy.

Pills in BottleSoon afterward, the man experienced numbness and weakness in his hand and checked into the hospital. The treating physician believed that the man had a reaction to the Lithium pills he mistakenly took. The man’s symptoms continued to worsen in the following months, and he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and polyneuropathy, allegedly due to his consumption of Lithium. The man had surgery performed on his hand and arm, but he continued to suffer from pain and stiffness in his hand.

The man filed a negligence case against the pharmacy for his injuries. During discovery, the pharmacy was asked to turn over the container with the mixed pills to determine if some of the pills were Lithium pills. The pharmacy stated that it had destroyed the container and its contents, pursuant to the store’s policy. Due to the pharmacy’s destruction of evidence, the man filed for sanctions against the pharmacy.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it would take actions to provide women with information about the risks of using Essure, a form of permanent birth control. This form of birth control involves inserting flexible coils through the cervix and vagina into the fallopian tubes. After about three months, scar tissue forms around the coils and makes a barrier in order to prevent conception.

danger-1166553The FDA recognized that there are potential complications related to these types of implantable forms of sterilization and that it should take actions in order to address these risks. These actions include requiring a clinical study to assess the risks and requiring warnings on the product labels. The FDA stated that the actions recognize that “more rigorous research is needed to better understand if certain women are at heightened risk of complications.”

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects public health by ensuring that food and drugs are safe for people to use. The FDA’s position is that while Essure is safe for most women, some women may be at risk for complications. Those complications may include pain, tears, bleeding, and allergic reactions.

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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.

drugs-1328529How Cases Get to the Supreme Court

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.

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There are side effects with just about any prescription medication. For many patients, the decision to take a specific medication comes only after the benefits of the medication are weighed against the possible side effects, which range from minor annoyances to serious medical risks.

blue-pills-1311466The laundry list of side effects that can be found on the internet and pharmacy receipts is generally discovered through the use of clinical trials. A medication with potential benefits to a specific class of patients is tested and retested to determine its efficacy as well as its risks. Doctors are then guided by the results of these trials. This evidence-based approach to prescribing medication helps doctors better predict how well medications will work in a given patient, and what the side effects of the medication are likely to be.

The evidence produced in clinical trials and reviewed by doctors also helps establish what is known in legal and medical circles as a “standard of care.” Doctors comprehensively review published material on a given medical condition or conditions and try to reach a consensus about how best to treat patients, taking into account all of their medical conditions, as well as other factors like their age, medical history, and additional medications.

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