Why Lawsuits Don’t Force Drug Companies To Release Safer Medications

In the last few years, there have been numerous class action suits against drug companies. These lawsuits claim that the manufacturers are releasing unsafe drugs that have not been properly tested before being released to the public. For a drug manufacturer, releasing a drug before the competition means more profit, and for most companies, profit is more important than safety.

How They Get Away With It
Drug companies can get away with this practice because the worst thing that can happen is a lawsuit, which means they must pay court costs and compensation for those who took the drug. For a large company, the fees and payouts are small compared the millions of dollars they make when they release a new medication.

Legal Problems for Drug Companies
In the 1950s, the first major mass tort drug case was introduced in the United States. Thalidomide, an anti-nausea drug, was prescribed for pregnant woman to combat morning sickness. It was soon discovered that the medication caused birth defects for the unborn baby.

Drug companies today rush to introduce the next big drug. The FDA approves the medication even though the side effects may not be fully realized. If the drug causes problems, the drug manufacturers fight the claim, and they eventually pay the costs to the consumers or cause a long legal battle, hoping the plaintiffs will drop the lawsuit.

New Birth Control Options
One of the latest examples is a new type of birth control pill for women. The patents have expired on the latest group of birth control pills, so drug companies are trying to find a new solution so they hold the patent, which increases their profits. These new products include new types of pills, vaginal rings and patches. The drug company gets creative with its marketing and offers more attractive containers in hopes of attracting new customers. But these new products may not be fully tested, and women who take them may suffer the consequences.

Why It Keeps Happening
The public often wonders how these medications can get FDA approval and still cause serious side effects. New medications must undergo testing, included controlled studies on humans, before getting FDA approval. To understand how this keeps happening, you must understand how the system works.

A drug manufacturer releases a new medication, and they hold the patent on it. That means no other company can offer the same medication, and there are no generic versions available. The company makes about a billion dollars a year for 20 years until the patent expires. If there is a lawsuit because of the side effects, the company will only pay a couple hundred million dollars, which is small compared to their total profit.

In the case of birth control, women were developing blood clots after taking the medication. Part of their treatment includes blood thinners like Coumadin or Pradaxa. But these medications do not fix the problem, and there are Pradaxa lawsuits because of the side effects of that particular medication.

Until drug companies are held accountable for their actions, they will not release safer medications or perform better testing before releasing a medication. The way the system works now, the companies are held accountable only to the shareholders, who are driven by money. When the companies have to answer to the people whose lives were affected, maybe things will change. By making consumers aware of the problems, we can try to change how drug companies create and market new medications.

Authored By: Renee Simmons. Renee is a journalist/blogger who contributes new legal information across different websites and organizations. Find out more about Pradaxa side effects here.