Lawsuits involving pharmaceuticals and other medical products are nothing new. Highly publicized litigation involving pharmaceuticals or medical devices has been occurring for decades. One example, the Dalkon Shield litigation of the early 1970s, involved over 200,000 women who developed pelvic inflammatory disease after using the faulty birth control device. These types of cases occurred periodically even before that. But the changing approach the pharmaceutical industry has taken to testing and marketing new drugs and devices has made these suits more common.
The amount of money involved in the research and development of new drugs is difficult to comprehend as each big pharmaceutical company clamors to be the first to develop the next wonder drug. When these products reach the clinical trials stage, the stakes become incredibly high. If previously unknown side effects surface, taking the drug back to formula could take years and cost the company millions of dollars or more. That is why companies are all too willing to minimize side effects, skew clinical studies, and do whatever else is necessary to ensure the drug hits the market as planned.
It may seem difficult to believe that pharmaceutical companies can be so crass. But many drug companies realize that even if they fully expect that releasing a flawed drug will result in large-scale litigation and major liability, the profit potential far exceeds the amounts they may have to pay to injured consumers through judgments and settlements. As pharmaceutical liability attorneys, it is our job to ensure that this does not continue to be the case.