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Over the counter headache medication - fell sick - turns out it was expired.

Fremont, CA |

We recently bought over the counter headache medication for my father-in-law. Shortly after we bought, he consumed it and fell sick. That is when we checked the medication to find it was expired. A claim has been filed with pharmacy as soon as this happened. My father in law has suffered for several days as a result of this. What are our legal options here?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

It highly depends on the amount and severity of the health care your father needed- or his "damages." If he is retired and could not watch TV for a few days, that is different than needng brain surgery, and closing his car factory for several days.

You will need a medical opinion to prove any damages, since he came in for a headache, and could have been getting sick before the medication. This will cost hundreds of dollars an hour, because you have to pay a doctor to write an opinion to assert the causation of the damages from the drug.

Call a local med mal attorney and talk to them if you feel this needs further workup. Good luck!

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Norman Antonio Stiteler

Norman Antonio Stiteler

Posted

My only comment is that I am not certain that this would be a med mal case, in that this is an ordinary over the counter medicine. Probably ordinary negligence in that the store has a duty to remove expired medications.

Posted

In general, medications in the United States are given expiration dates which are calendared well in advance of the actual date of chemical decomposition to a point severe enough to render said medication inactive and/or toxic. Nitroglycerine tablets (NTG) are one medication that lose effectiveness quite rapidly when exposed to air... so once the bottle is opened, the clock starts ticking on how long one can rely on them for the serious and deadly heart condition for which they are taken. Thus, should a pharmacy sell expired NTG tabs and a patient suffer death by heart attack as a direct result of the failure of the NTG to be effective and it is proven that had the NTG been effective said person would have survived, that... that would likely be a successful and meritorious case.

That said, many medications are good for quite a while after the stamped date of expiration... this allows for plenty of time to remove them from shelves... destroy them properly or even donate to third world countries where they will be eagerly consumed quickly and well in advance of any toxic or ill effects.

Over the counter medications like Tylenol or Motrin (or their generic equivalents) are rarely associated with toxicity as a result of being a bit expired. Thus should one suffer a headache and take Tylenol expired by a few days and then suffer more headache and get sick there is probably something more serious than a headache going on and said person should get emergent medical attention... and do so well before seeing if there is a lawsuit to file.

And, of course, whenever someone gets sick after taking Tylenol, the press has trained many a medical professional to wonder about intentionally toxin laced product being placed on a store shelf... so one would want to have the potentially offending medication tested for poison... especially around the 9/11 time of year.

- Paul

Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
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Posted

I doubt you have sufficient damages for a case, unless your father has permanent injuries.

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none.

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