By: Liz Liberatore
lawsuits for dangerous drugs and devices
Have you ever seen a commercial asking you if you’ve been injured from a prescription or over-the-counter drug or a medical device? Usually, these commercials are informing the public about a specific type of medical lawsuit related to drugs and devices available on the market. The FDA is continuously collecting information about complications from drugs and medical devices and sometimes requests or demands their withdrawal from the market.
It may seem monotonous but these commercials exist because there are many dangerous drugs and devices still on market and continue to cause injuries to those using them. Some law firms have a dedicated department called “Mass Tort” that monitor these situations. When many people are injured by the same drug or device, Mass Tort attorneys represent individuals to help them go after the manufacturers.
Many people think this is the job of the FDA, but FDA approval does not always mean that a drug or device is guaranteed to be safe. Manufacturers must complete a five-step process in order to obtain FDA approval: discovery/concept, preclinical research, clinical research, FDA review and FDA post-market safety monitoring. However, the FDA does not test any of the drugs or devices it approves, it relies on the manufacturers to do the testing and studies on their own products. That research is then reviewed by FDA physicians and scientists. Many drugs or devices have safety concerns but are approved based on the FDA’s determination that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
So, the next time you hear those words, “Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with this injury after taking this particular drug?” take note as you may actually be entitled to compensation. Below are some facts about this special type of litigation.
What is the typical litigation process for a dangerous drug or device?
There are typically hundreds to thousands of individuals that may have been injured by a certain drug or device. Instead of filing these claims in many different courts all over the country, it is common for a Judicial Panel to form an MDL (Multidistrict Litigation) court in order to simplify and speed the process of these complex cases. This way, only one judge presides over the entire litigation and attorneys from all over the country can pool their resources and share expert witnesses.
After the court is formed, next is the pretrial stage, where the court will set pretrial orders informing the attorneys involved of the ground rules, deadlines, and procedures. After the pretrial stage is the discovery process, which is when each party obtains evidence from the other party.
Some cases will be selected to go to trial in what is known as a Bellwether trial. Bellwether trials are where a handful of cases are selected to be tried before a jury to assist the court and the parties in evaluating information and evidence, and evaluate future trends in a larger group of similar cases. These cases are then settled or tried, and the results are used to shape the process for addressing the remaining cases. Sometimes the defendant wants to settle the cases at that point, sometimes they decide to have additional trials.
How long do these cases typically take?
It is difficult to predict how long these cases will take because each litigation is very complicated. Cases are first filed in the MDL court from all over the country. Each trial can take months to conclude. Typically, these types of cases take several years from beginning to end.
What happens if I think I may have been injured by a dangerous drug or device?
First, you should call a trusted law firm that handles Mass Tort litigation. Your information will be reviewed by an attorney and they will determine if you may have a case or not. If so, your medical records are ordered and reviewed to make sure we have all your usage, injuries and treatment documented. The records serve as the documentation needed to support our claims of your injuries during litigation. Your claim is then filed into the court. Your case may or may not be chosen to go to trial in a Bellwether trial.
Is this the same as a class action lawsuit?
No, while Mass Torts are similar to class action lawsuits in that it involves a large group of people going after the same defendants, the major difference is the way the plaintiffs are compensated, and the cases are filed. The plaintiffs’ claims are individualized due to the broad range of injuries and each lawsuit is filed separately rather than in a group. This ensures that everyone will receive a fair settlement based on their injuries.
Some active dangerous drug and device claims Brown & Crouppen are accepting currently are:
- IVC Filters
- Hernia Mesh