Defective Drug Lawyers St. Louis
Our defective drugs lawyers help St. Louis clients with medical malpractice suits.
It is really only in recent decades that doctors realized that children’s birth defects could be caused by drugs taken during pregnancy. The first major instance of birth defects from defective drugs was recognized in the early 1960s and related to a German drug called Thalidomide. The drug was developed as an anticonvulsant, and although it did not work well for that it was thought to be a very safe sedative and was marketed to treat issues like asthma, hypertension, and migraines. Tragically, the drug was soon linked to a rash of birth defects ranging from heart disease to misshapen limbs.
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The big drug companies in America are raking in money hand over fist. The BBC has reported that in one recent year Pfizer, a large American drug company, posted a 49% profit margin. That blew away the highest profit margins in other industries, such as banks, auto manufacturers, and the oil and gas industry. The profits are troubling. As one doctor put it, a company making $3 billion per year on a cancer drug should be able to get by on $2 billion and lower the price of that drug for disease victims.
The drug companies often use the excuse that all those profits go back into research and development for new life-saving drugs. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that claim is largely false. The study found that the median costs of developing a single cancer drug was $648 million, but the median revenue was $1,658 million. That suggests that companies are making a lot of money beyond the costs of developing a drug. The study even accounted for all the research money spent on drugs that did not work out.
Even with the enormous profits, drug companies still get caught selling defective drugs trying to make even more money. Opioids are the really hot topic among drugs right now. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that interact with nerve cells in the body and brain. They can be prescribed legally to treat pain, in the form of drugs like oxycodone, Vicodin, codeine, and morphine. The same drug is also in heroin, so, unfortunately, legal use of painkillers has led to either addictive abuse or a transition to using illegal drugs to get a similar reaction.
Lawsuits related to opioids are sweeping the nation, as the drug companies and even groups like health commissions that recommend the drugs are being attacked for pushing the addictive drugs on the public. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley recently filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturers that he says failed to warn of the risks posed by their opioid drugs. Individuals that have been harmed by the drugs may have recourse in the courts as well.
Companies that sell opioids could easily be on the hook for some of the worst defective drug cases of all time. Most people would say that the worst so far was a drug called Vioxx, which was an anti-inflammatory drug that was once very popular for treating arthritis and other chronic conditions. The drug was withdrawn from the market in 2004 after some of the people using the drug suffered strokes or heart attacks. The company that made the drug, Merck, eventually agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle all the lawsuits related to the drug.
Another terrible recall involved a drug called Baycol, which was a statin that was taken by patients to reduce their cholesterol by blocking an enzyme that forms cholesterol. After a time, the drug was found to have caused a condition called rhabdomyolysis, which leads to the buildup of a chemical called myoglobin in the body. This can leave muscles feeling weak and sore, and in the long run can cause life-threatening kidney failure. The drug has been withdrawn and has been subject to thousands of lawsuits, some of which are ongoing.
Birth Defects from Defective Drugs
In recent decades, the medical system has become much more aware of “teratogenic drugs,” which are drugs that can disrupt a baby’s development. Each organ of an embryo has a critical period when its development can be disrupted, and the time period when the drug is taken can impact what parts of the fetus are impacted. Though modern medicine is still baffled by some aspects of childbirth, the science has come a long way in being able to identify exactly what causes a specific birth defect if the mother’s activities can be documented.
Unfortunately, it can take years to sort out the science related to birth defects from defective drugs. For example, an anti-nausea drug called Zofran has been used in recent years to treat, among other things, extreme morning sickness. A number of studies then came out linking the drug to birth defects like cleft palates and heart defects, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists rolled back their support for the drug. Then, new studies came out that suggested the drug actually did not seem to cause birth defects from defective drugs and instead Zofran actually reduced the rate of miscarriage or stillbirth.
If you are a mother trying to sort all this out it can be very scary. There is no way to quantify the sense of anguish a parent can feel, and parents often underestimate the tangible costs of a child with birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that birth defects cost the U.S. over $2.6 billion per year, and children with birth defects can cost as much as 13 times as much to care for as children without defects.
If your child has suffered from a birth defect, you probably have little idea of what caused it and who, if anyone, is responsible. The Dixon Injury Firm is willing to review your case at no charge to see if you have been a victim of provable birth defects from defective drugs. Of course, your immediate focus should be on caring for your child. In the longer run, however, that child is facing a lifetime of very serious costs and you should take any opportunity you can to ensure your child is financially cared for over what is hopefully a very long and fulfilling life.