News coverage of the serious and sometimes fatal side effects caused by medication has been alarming to the public as well as health care professionals.
One job of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to evaluate new drugs before they can be sold. The evaluation not only prevents quackery, but also provides doctors and patients the information they need to use medicines wisely. The FDA is directed to ensure that drugs, both brand-name and generic, work correctly and that their health benefits outweigh their known risks.
Drug companies seeking to sell a drug in the United States must first test it. These tests are performed by the companies in human volunteers. The company then sends the FDA the evidence from these tests to prove the drug is safe and effective for its intended use. If the FDA, through a team of physicians, statisticians, chemists, pharmacologists and other scientists, establishes that a drug’s health benefits outweigh its known risks, the drug is approved for sale.
Even after the drug is authorized to be sold, drug companies still remain responsible for reporting to the FDA any side effects or problems that are occurring when the drug is used in a wider patient population.
Drug companies spend millions of dollars in the research, development, testing and marketing of new drugs. As recent news stories detail, sometimes the drug companies fail to report or cover up side effects, including potentially fatal ones, that surface during initial human testing or post-FDA approval.
If you have taken prescription drugs in the past and have experienced serious side effects, you may be entitled to a portion of the large settlement awards from the responsible drug manufacturer. Even if you have used the drugs without side effects, you may be eligible for some form of award because of the drug’s potentially fatal effects.