In late January, United States District Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania allowed a lawsuit against drug manufacturers to proceed. Multiple pharmaceutical companies were named in the suit that centered around Injectafer, a medication used when a patient suffers from an iron deficiency. The claim against the manufacturers states that Injectafer had defects in its design, and that the manufacturers failed to warn of the several side effects that come with taking the drug. Punitive damages are also being sought in the case.
The two plaintiffs in the case have stated in their claim that although the manufacturers knew Injectafer causes severe or persistent hypophosphatemia (HPP), they failed to warn patients. HPP is a serious condition that can cause extreme weakness, fatigue, bone fractures, numbness, and confusion. In more serious cases, it can even cause death by respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.
Product Liability Law and the Responsibility of Drug Companies
Defective drugs, which the plaintiffs claim Injectafer to be, fall under an area of law known as product liability. Under product liability law, drugs may be considered defective if there are flaws in the design or manufacturing of the drugs, or if the drug does not have adequate warning labels.
Drug companies are responsible for ensuring their products do not contain any of these defects. They must conduct appropriate testing of the drugs and submit the drug for approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, drugs must also have proper warning labels explicitly outlining the potential side effects of the drug.
In the most recent case, the judge found that the pharmaceutical companies did not provide adequate warning labels to the FDA due to the fact that the federal agency likely would have rejected stronger warnings.
Another interesting fact of the recent story is that the plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages. Although these are rarely awarded in most personal injury cases, they are quite common in claims that allege a drug was defective.
Unlike other types of compensation plaintiffs can claim in injury cases, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim for their losses. Instead, these damages are meant to punish the defendant for gross negligence, or extremely reckless behavior and to deter them from taking similar actions in the future.
Punitive damages are not included in claims to the insurance company. To receive them, plaintiffs must take their case to trial and present an argument that punitive damages are warranted in a certain case. However, the idea of punitive damages being brought up during trial can help ensure insurance companies pay a fair settlement. A lawyer can determine when to ask for them and if it is better to settle or go to court.
Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers can Help With Your Defective Drug Case
If you have been injured by a defective drug, you can trust our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers with your case. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, we know how to hold pharmaceutical companies liable for their defective drugs and we will not hesitate to take the case to trial if we think that will help you secure the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 to speak to one of our attorneys and to get the legal help you need.