How do dangerous drugs get on the market?
Most, if not all, prescription drugs have side effects. Unfortunately, it comes with the nature of them. When you agree to take a medication for a condition or disease, you usually accept that there may be minor side effects as a result, but the good is believed to outweigh the bad, which is why we take medication.
In fact, this is how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decides to approve a drug or not. When a drug company wants to start selling a new drug, they must first test it for safety and effectiveness. The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) then reviews the testing, and if the “drug’s health benefits outweigh its known risks, the drug is approved for sale.”
As their website points out, the FDA does not actually conduct drug testing itself. This means that they rely on drug companies to conduct comprehensive and accurate tests and to report the results honestly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For instance, pharmaceutical companies may fail to report negative results to the FDA or they may study side effects for only a short period of time. The FDA then approves these drugs based on flawed and/or dishonest tests and doctors can start prescribing them to people like you.
You can read more about the FDA development and approval process for drugs here.
If test results come back with negative results, the FDA may respond by demanding more testing, writing letters to doctors, and/or adding warnings to labels, but all of these things require meetings, reports, and reviews, all of which can take years. So even when the FDA is properly informed of adverse side effects, it may take them a very long time before determining that the bad outweighs the good and that the drug, therefore, needs to be taken off the market. In the meantime, patients like you may be getting sicker and sicker.
This is how the process works. It is important to understand the process, because the more you know, the less you can be fooled. You may feel fooled already, which is why it’s so important to understand how you got here before you can start moving forward.
Are you taking any of these dangerous drugs?
There are certain prescription drugs that have been linked to serious adverse reactions of which you should be aware. If you are taking or have taken any of these drugs, you may be at risk.
Type 2 diabetes drugs: Avandia and Actos
Side effects: bladder cancer, heart failure, and heart attacks
Lawsuits: about $2.37 billion paid in settlement of about 9,000 claims against Actos
Antidepressants and mood stabilizers: Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Depakote
Side effects: suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies, birth defects, and violent behavior
Lawsuits: over $1 billion paid in settlement
Testosterone replacement drugs such as AndroGel
Side effects: heart attacks
Birth control pills: Yaz and Yasmin
Side effects: blood clots, which can contribute to deep vein thrombosis (DVTs), pulmonary embolism (PE), stroke, or heart attack
Lawsuits filed: 10,000+
Acne medication: Accutane
Side effects: inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies, birth defects, liver damage, gastrointestinal disorders
Removed from market in 2009
Crestor (a cholesterol drug)
Side effects: muscle tissue damage (rhabdomyolysis), kidney (renal) failure, chronic or abnormal bleeding
Blood thinners: Pradaxa and Xarelto
Side effects: uncontrollable bleeding, heart attacks, heart disease
Xarelto was fast-tracked and approved in 2011, so other side effects are unknown.
Osteoporosis drug: Fosamax
Side effects: ONJ (jaw death), joint and muscle pain, atrial fibrillation, inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus
Lawsuits filed: ~1,000
Dialysis treatment drugs: GranuFlo and NaturaLyte
Side effects: excess acid in the blood, which can lead to organ damage, heart arrhythmia, heart attack, coma, and death
Vioxx (a pain medication)
Side effects: heart attack, stroke
Lawsuits filed: 60,000+
Reglan: a gastrointestinal drug
Side effects: Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)
Lawsuits filed: 5,000+
Hair loss pills: Propecia and Proscar
Side effects: erectile dysfunction, libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, orgasm disorders, high-grade prostate cancer
This is by no means an exhaustive list. We encourage you to look through Drugwatch’s more complete list of dangerous drugs. Even if you don’t see your medication on this list, we encourage you to contact a personal injury attorney who can review your case and advise you as to your legal options.
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