When in the hospital or dealing with a medical condition, we have little choice but to trust drug companies. We assume they are taking all necessary precautions so anyone who uses their product will be safe.
Sadly, this is not always the case. In recent years, tainted and dangerous medications have made their way into the hands of unwitting consumers over and over again. These drugs have, in some cases, not just made things worse, but resulted in tragedy.
The full scope of the problem
Problems with pharmaceuticals are not some rare occurrence. As one physicians group points out, every year, there are an estimated 2 million adverse drug reactions in the U.S. These reactions result in an estimated 100,000 deaths.
In some cases, the issue is tainted medication, anything from a specialty prescription drug to a commonly used over-the-counter brand. According to Kaiser Health News, 2013-18 saw pharmaceutical companies recall about 8,000 medicines after those drugs entered the U.S. supply chain. Problems included:
- Dangerous bacteria that had contaminated the product
- Glass particles in the drug
- Mold in the medicine
- Drugs with the incorrect amount of its active ingredient – either too little or too much
Dangerous drugs often make it into patients’ hands
The issue is not just that bad medications are being manufactured. Instead, it’s that these tainted drugs receive approval, then end up with patients – who may take the medicine without knowing the dangers.
According to Kaiser Health News, over that same five-year period, there were nearly 300 products recalled within just one year of the manufacturing facilities passing a federal inspection.
In addition, as the physicians group highlights, it can take years for a dangerous medication to actually be pulled from the market. The group estimates that, over an 18-year period, doctors prescribed drugs that were later withdrawn tens of millions of times.
Holding drug manufacturers accountable
“Big pharma” earned that moniker for a reason. These companies can make billions of dollars, and will sometimes pour vast resources into arguing their products are safe – even if there is evidence otherwise.
Holding these companies responsible for any wrongdoing requires a careful investigation of all relevant facts, and the experience to stand toe-to-toe with industry giants in court. This is not always a simple undertaking, but negligence is negligence.
These businesses may be big, but they can still be held accountable.