In May 2022, Teva and AbbVie’s Allergan unit reached a $161 million settlement in the state of West Virginia, including $27 million in Narcan, the overdose reversal drug. West Virginia claimed that the pharmaceutical companies exacerbated the opioid epidemic by running strategic campaigns designed to deceive prescribers and misrepresent the risks associated with painkillers. Teva and AbbVie are also negotiating a $5 billion settlement to resolve more than 3,500 other opioid cases.
Types of liability for pharmaceuticals
Product liability claims for pharmaceuticals typically involve defective manufacturing, dangerous side effects or improper marketing. Defective manufacturing claims involve injuries caused by a tainted or improperly manufactured product. This could also involve a labeling issue or another serious error along the chain of distribution to the consumer. Claims for dangerous side effects involve properly manufactured pharmaceuticals with adverse effects that result in injury. Improper marketing may involve inadequate warnings, labeling or recommendations that cause or fail to prevent an injury.
Potentially liable parties
Defendants in product liability claims involving pharmaceuticals typically work in the chain of distribution to the prescribers. Some of the parties most likely to be targeted in a drug-related product liability claim include the manufacturers, testing laboratories, doctors, medical facilities and pharmacies among others. These parties may be held liable because of the role each plays in getting the defective pharmaceuticals to the prescriber. Even pharmaceutical sales reps can be held liable for recommending drugs that cause injuries.
Anyone injured by a pharmaceutical prescription may be able to file a defective product liability claim against the parties involved. These pharmaceutical liability lawsuits often involve a combination of claims that may include claims for improper marketing and claims for dangerous side effects. The different types of claims filed typically target different subsets of defendants within the chain of distribution.