Pharmaceutical companies manufacture and market hundreds of new drugs each year. Each product is regulated and approved by the Food and Drug Administration before it reaches the consumer, and every year over 200,000 people die from using these drugs. It is estimated that more than 50% of all the drugs marketed to the American consumer have deleterious effects, in spite of testing and FDA regulation.
Of all the recent examples of harmful drugs, most were withdrawn from sale within 12 months of release. Some drugs were still marketed by drug companies even after evidence of serious side effects or death had been noted. By law, drug manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries if the product they sell is defective or unreasonably dangerous. This can happen in several ways.
- The product may be defective because of an error in the manufacturing process.
- Consumers are not warned of possible bad effects from the use of the product.
- The product has a design flaw that makes it dangerous.
In all these cases, the manufacturer is liable and can be sued for damages even if they were unaware of the danger. It does not matter how carefully the product was produced or labeled.
Of additional concern are the dietary supplements which are becoming increasingly popular. The FDA requires that manufacturers assure that such supplements are safe before selling them, but there are no testing or approval requirements.