Over-the-counter medicines give us the immediate relief that we need from minor pains or illnesses, like headache, toothache or cough and colds; however, for heart ailment, or diabetes or other types of serious health complaints, we rely on whatever drug a doctor will prescribe.
A drug that is perfectly safe and effective can definitely work wonders. However, time and again, it has been proven that safe and effective, at least in relation to over-the-counter and prescription drugs, sometimes never go together. There have been many times when a drug has been proven effective, but not safe. Some prescription drugs have even linked to adverse effects, patient death or abuse, which likewise results to death. Thus, what may be safe for one, may serve as poison (or a cause of another type of illness) to another.
Pharmaceutical companies have the duty to make sure that their products are safe and effective. Even before applying for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have their drug made available in the market, this drug will have to be tested. All test results on the drug’s safety, effectiveness and, especially negative effects, will have to be reported to the FDA. Reporting of negative results, though, is usually not made by drug companies who, by the way, sponsor the tests conducted on their own drugs.
There are cases, on the other hand, when doctors commit the mistake of prescribing certain drugs for off-label use, that is for use not approved by the FDA. At other times, it could be a patient’s immune system not being strong enough to fight possible drug side-effects, or a patient having a medical health condition, or a patient taking another medication that counteracts with this new drug he or she is now taking.
Pharmaceutical companies also have the obligation to include in their drug’s prescription label the risk/s associated with using their medicine. Companies which negligently fail in their duty to inform consumers about the risks associated with using their medical product can be sought after by those harmed through the use of their drug to seek compensation from them for all the damages (present and future) resulting from use of such medicine.
The law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., explains in their website that when physicians prescribe a medication, their intention is to help their patients find relief from the symptoms of an illness or condition. While a physician may be spared from being liable in case a patient suffers injuries through use of a particular drug, this will definitely not spare the pharmaceutical firm that manufactured the harmful medicine.