This morning’s news had a very compelling and disturbing story about tainted prescription medications. A New England Compounding Center pharmacy in Massachusetts regularly makes custom steroidal injections and medications for it’s clients. Compounding pharmacies are not new and serve a legitimate public purpose. Compounding pharmacists create custom combinations of medicines to make sure that patients get specialized medications at proper dosage levels and intensities. Something went terribly wrong. Patients were complaining of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision and speech problems. Whatever the problem was, more than 500 customers who received these injections from the pharmacy have gotten seriously ill and 37 have died.
Dozens of the customers have filed suit seeking compensation for their lost wages, physical and emotional damages and in 37 cases, the death of a spouse, parent or family member. Pharmacies, like other retailers have an affirmative duty to make sure the products they put in the stream of commerce are safe for their expected and intended use. When a pharmacy puts dangerous or defective products into the marketplace they are liable for the damages which flow from the use of these defective products. In this case, the defect led to users contracting fungal meningitis.
The litigation to recover these damages is complex and convoluted. As in most of the mass tort claims pending in Federal District Court, these cases are being consolidated to streamline the process. This consolidation saves expenses by avoiding duplication of effort in different lawsuits seeking the same discovery information. Litigation like this can drag on and take years to reach a proper resolution whether it is through Mediation or Trial. The litigation is in it’s early stages and the Plaintiff’s attorneys are considering and evaluating what other Parties may be responsible. If other responsible parties are identified they could possibly be added to the litigation. One of the reasons is that the Compounding Pharmacy likely has insufficient insurance to cover the significant claims of almost 500 victims.
Adulterated or ‘bad drugs’ are more commonplace than one might think. This type of negligence comes in many forms. A pharmacy can sell stale, outdated or tainted medications. A pharmacist or pharmacy tech can dispense the wrong medication as the result of a routine error or the label can be misprinted or the dosage incorrect. Whichever error occurs, the result can be anything from flu like symptoms to paralysis or death and can financially devastate a family financially. If you have a suspicion that you or a family member or friend may have come into contact with such a problem, make sure you choose a law firm like Gibbs and Parnell who has significant experience and resources to investigate and recover the proper damages from the responsible parties. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist to make sure you have the correct prescription with the correct dosage. Don’t be afraid to ask about drug interactions when you are taking more than one prescription. As with many things, a vigilant consumer is his own best advocate to avoid becoming a victim of a “Bad Drug” or a negligent pharmacist.