Every drug is potentially dangerous. While all drugs are tested before they are released on the market, pharmaceutical manufacturers are interested in getting their products to market. They may minimize or discount evidence of adverse effects. When a new medication is developed it is first extensively tested on animal subjects to determine if it may be detrimental to humans. If no life threatening complications are detected, the drug is then subjected to rigorous double-blind studies that can last for years to gather evidence of the drug’s efficacy and unintended consequences.
Once this data is tabulated and studied by medical scientists and statisticians, the results are submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of release to the general public. The FDA reviews the submitted information, holds hearings, listens to testimony of the potential benefits and detriments of a particular drug, and then approves it marketing and sales for prescription or over-the-counter use. Prescription medications are those that require the oversight and order of a licensed healthcare provider.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required not only to perform preliminary studies prior to a drug’s release, they are also required to monitor their drug’s effects with ongoing studies in the general population. The FDA does not conduct scientific studies. This federal agency’s role is only to review published data as it develops and as it is presented to its committees. The medical community corresponds with itself. Doctors, researches, and medical scientists collect data, assemble reports of a drug’s actions and reactions, and the results are published in widely available medical journals distributed throughout the profession. Pharmacology is a science. As such, the field is studied by educated and credentialed practitioners who make their living offering informed opinions on the use of medications as exercised to treat diseases.
Many drugs have adverse side effects that are not anticipated at the time of their introduction. Some of these effects may be predicted based on the available evidence. Others only become apparent when a wider population is exposed to a medication. Thalidomide is an example This drug was marketed in the late 1950s as an antidote to morning sickness in pregnant women. It soon became apparent that it caused horrible, preventable birth defects in infants. Based on this experience, and others that followed, the testing of drugs before they are released on the open market has become more stringent as the decades, and scientific methods, progress.
Thorough testing does not prevent adverse injury due to a drug’s prescribed use. Today, even though people use legal drugs approved by the FDA and prescribed by a licensed physician, and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist employed by a neighborhood outlet of a national pharmacy chain, in a skilled nursing home, or by a certified home health aide, adverse effects are still suffered by people who take dangerous drugs according to their doctor’s orders.
A drug, by definition, affects the operations of the body. It is meant to cure disease or to alleviate symptoms. Drugs are designed to regulate the body’s operation within optimal ranges. This definition applies to antidepressants, arthritis medications, birth control drugs, sleeping pills, weight loss drugs, cholesterol drugs, such as statins, cold and cough suppressant drugs, diabetes drugs, painkillers, and anti-seizure medications. No drug is completely safe, but the guidelines established for its use should guarantee safety for the people for whom it is prescribed. When a drug negatively impacts a patient’s quality of life in a way that outweighs the benefits the drug provides, or when a drug requires further medical intervention to correct the side effects, that drug causes more harm than cure.
Pharmacology is an inexact science, but it should still be held to the same standards as any other medical practice. The Hippocratic Oath, to which every physician agrees to adhere before treating his or her fist patient, requires that the first thing a physician must do is no harm to those under his or her care. When people find their quality of life damaged due to dangerous drugs, they have no other recourse but legal professionals rather than medical professionals.
Medical liability lawyers and dangerous drug lawyers specialize in seeking compensation for people who suffer personal injury due to prescribed medical drug use. An experienced legal team of allied professionals will aggressively pursue their client’s interest in either a class action or an individual malpractice suit to receive just compensation for injuries incurred from following medical advice.