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Drugs & Medical Devices

Top Examples of Defective Drugs and Lawsuits

— September 15, 2021

Serious side effects and mislabeling are some of the most common lawsuit claims against defective drugs.

In today’s time there is a lot of discussion around pharmaceutical drugs. Some of the discourse has led to the apparition of specific phrases that are more or less buzzwords. Two of the most common used ones are war on drugs and big pharma. While the first one has some legitimacy to its name and some actual evidence to back it up, the latter is more linked to conspiracy theories than scientific research. 

Medical drugs, be them over the counter or prescription, have side effects, some worse than others. These side effects and, in some cases, the human body’s natural resistance or the ability to get used to prolonged use of medication is a part of the fear mongering behind the war on drugs. Even so, there are instances in which the fear has a leg to stand on, since throughout the years the use of medical drugs, including those with a prescription attached to them, has ended up in a lawsuit. If you think you may be a victim of such side-effects, read here about defective drug lawsuits. 

Until then, let’s look at four drugs, in no particular order, their side-effects, lawsuits, and legal consequences!

  1. Seroquel Lawsuit

Made and marketed by AstraZeneca, Seroquel is an antipsychotic drug that works by changing the actions of chemicals in the brain. It is used in the treatment of several mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some of the side effects include diabetes, hyperglycemia, and pancreatitis. 

In March 2011, after a three-year investigation, Washington Attorney General’s Office filed a settlement of 68.5 million dollars, a record sum. The cause of the lawsuit: AstraZeneca marketed Seroquel as suitable for treating children and the elderly, although it produces dangerous side effects. Read more here. 

2. Zantac Lawsuits

This one is still ongoing!

What started as a popular anti-acidic drug in the 1980 ended up involved in numerous cancer related lawsuits starting in recent years. One of the best – selling drugs in pharmaceutical history has now been recalled off the market due to the presence of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Even though this chemical is unintentionally created, it is unstable and very dangerous for the human body, specifically the liver. It has also been recognized as a carcinogenic substance since the 1970. The D in NDMA stands for Dimethylhydrazine which is component of rocket fuel. 

The plaintiffs in the Zantac lawsuits are claiming exactly this, that the product is the cause of their cancer. Since there are several lawsuits still ongoing, as well as the research on the drug, a fixed payout for the plaintiffs is yet to be established. However, depending on the severity of the injury and the strength of the claim high level cases can be forth more than 500000 dollars. 

3. Accutane Lawsuits

Image by Ali Jouyandeh, via
Image by Ali Jouyandeh, via

This one has a complicated history and a well-deserved payout! 

At its origin, Accutane was considered a miraculous drug against acne. However, in spite of its fame, there have been claims that the side effects include IBO and Crohn Disease since 1984. Around 8000 lawsuits have been filed against Accutane over the years. Extensive research has been done since the earliest claims, but a strong enough link between Accutane and various forms of inflammatory bowel disease was not found, so the manufacturer, Roche, did not include it on the labeling. This led to the dismissal of almost 2000 plaintiffs, some of them even in 2018. 

The first major win for the plaintiffs was in 2007. Andrew McCarrewell won the verdict and was awarded 2.7 million dollars. Roche appealed unsuccessfully and in 2010 they had to give McCarrel another 25 million dollars. Since 2017 the case has been disputed again. 

Since 2009 the branded form is no longer sold. Roche withdrew it due to several allegations of serious side effects that include pancreatitis, birth defects, Crohn’s disease, and psychiatric conditions including suicide emerged. 

4. Depakote Lawsuits

The company behind Depakote, divalproex sodium or valproic acid, is Abbot. It has been marketed as a drug that treats epilepsy, migraines, and bipolar disorder. As opposed to others on this list, this one is still on the shelves and has been a help for people with seizures and debilitating headaches. However, there is controversy around it and its side effects and illegal marketing.

One such side effect is birth defects. In 2015 a lawsuit against Depakote and Abbot was won by a girl from Minnesota who was born with spinal bifida. The plaintiff and her mother claimed that the risks and side effects were not labeled accurately. In this specific case the jury awarded the victims a total amount of 38 million dollars. The first sum of 23 million dollars as punitive damages against Abbot and the second amount of 15 million dollars and compensation. 


Serious side effects and mislabeling are some of the most common lawsuit claims against defective drugs. Although sometimes the court might dismiss the case due to not enough research, lawsuits matter in the long run. If you or somebody close has suffered damages by these drugs or others do not hesitate to contact your lawyers! 

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