As consumers, we expect the products we purchase to have been properly tested and screened to ensure our safety and health. This is particularly true of our drugs; both prescription and over the counter. Unfortunately, it is often the case that big pharmaceutical companies’ top priority is their bottom line instead of patient health. It is true that most medications work as advertised and have only minor side effects. However, some drugs have much more damaging effects, and pharmaceutical companies have been known to hide crucial safety information in order to protect their profits. Every year, pharmaceutical companies spend $19 billion advertising their drugs. This is twice the amount that they spend on drug safety research. Because they spend millions of dollars developing their drugs, and billions of dollars advertising them, it is tempting to ignore early warning signs and keep the drugs on the market despite possible safety issues.
Prescription drugs are licensed and regulated by legislation. These regulations require that a prescription be obtained from a medical professional before the drugs can be accessed by a patient. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act defines which drugs require a prescription. The Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987 regulates the safety and effectiveness of these drugs. This law is implemented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unfortunately, some health risks associated with prescription drugs only become apparent after they are marketed and prescribed to millions of people. Even if the risks are known earlier they may be covered up, for the reasons described above. Prescription drugs can cause serious adverse effects, including death. For more information about the adverse effects caused by prescription drugs, you can visit the FDA’s MedWatch program.
Drugs that are sold directly to the consumer without a prescription from a health care professional are called Over the Counter (OTC) drugs. OTC drugs are regulated by their active pharmaceutical ingredients. As is the case with every drug, OTC drugs still carry a risk of adverse side effects. Patients consuming these drugs should be aware of how they might interact with any prescription medications they are taking. Further, they should be aware of how different OTC drugs may interact with each other. Patients should also fully understand the dosing instructions of OTC drugs before taking them. Your physician or pharmacist should be able to answer any questions you may have about drug interactions or dosing.
If you believe that you have a legal claim due to suffering from adverse side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs, you may be entitled to compensation.