Skip to main content

Dangerous Drugs Overview

Posted by attorney R. Michael Bomberger

Pharmaceutical products play an important role in healthcare. From treating depression to preventing strokes and heart attacks, both prescription drugs and over the counter medications are used by millions of people every single day. Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to make products that are safe and warn users of potential complications. When drugs are defectively manufactured or cause dangerous side effects, manufacturers may be held liable.


When you take a drug prescribed by your doctor, you expect that it will benefit you, either by relieving pain, helping your recover from an illness, or otherwise ease the symptoms of a condition you may be suffering from. If a drug causes dangerous side effects, the manufacturer of the medication may be liable. For example, some patients who were prescribed Crestor to lower their cholesterol suffered liver damages, kidney damage, and other organ failure. Some women who were prescribed Paxil to treat depression gave birth to children with birth defects. These are just two examples of dozens of dangerous drugs that may cause unwanted adverse effects. When a drug is linked to an unwanted side effect or serious complication, the drug's manufacturer may be liable.

Types of drug related claims: Defectively manufactured, dangerous side effects, improperly marketed

To be able to recover compensation from the manufacturer of a drug, you must be able to prove how a drug was defective. Your claim may relate to the way a drug was manufactured, the type of side effects the drug caused, or the way the drug was marketed. For example, if a drug claims to be safe for people with diabetes, but causes a heart attack in a diabetes patient, the claim may relate to the way a drug was marketed. If a person takes an over-the-counter cold remedy that causes permanent loss of smell, the claim may relate to the unwanted, permanent side effects of the medication.

How to identify potential defendants

More than one party may be responsible for you injuries as a result of a dangerous drug. Because every case is unique, the best way to identify potential defendants in your case is to talk to an experienced lawyer who handles dangerous drug cases. Once your attorney reviews your case, he or she may be able to explain who may be held responsible for your injuries.

Products Liability vs. Medical malpractice

Product liability claims are different than medical malpractice claims. In a product liability claim, the plaintiff (injured victim) is seeking compensation from the manufacturer of a drug. In a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff is seeking compensation from a physician or other healthcare professional. If an adverse side effect was caused by a doctor mistakenly prescribing the wrong dosage of a medication, you may be able to seek compensation from the doctor responsible for writing the prescription. But if your doctor prescribed the correct medication, but the drug was tainted because of a manufacturing defect, the manufacturer of the drug may be held liable.

What you must prove

To be able to claim compensation for your injuries or the death of a loved one, you must be able to prove that the drug caused the injury or your family member's death. This may be very difficult, as pharmaceutical companies are willing to invest millions to defend cases and will argue that the adverse event or death was caused by something else. If you have been injured or suffered adverse side effects because of a dangerous drug, you should contact an attorney with proven experience and success handling cases against pharmaceutical companies.

Additional resources provided by the author

Author of this guide:

Was this guide helpful?

Avvo personal injury email series

Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.

Recommended articles about Personal injury

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer