As a consumer who uses medications and medical devices, you expect that the pharmaceutical companies, your medical providers and pharmacists will make sure that everything is right for you. You need to know that what you put into your body is safe, and if it has potential side effects, then you want to know those as well.
Pharmaceutical drug companies often become the center of liability cases resulting from injuries caused to patients. Manufacturers have a responsibility to test drugs and medications before allowing them on the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides the testing criteria these companies are meant to use. On top of this, the companies must warn you about any and all potential side effects from medications. These companies should explain the risks, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use a particular medication.
There is naturally a "learned intermediary" between the company manufacturing drugs and the consumer. There may be two or more, in reality. Your doctor, nurses and pharmacists all fill this role. These people, along with the drug manufacturing company, are meant to do everything they can to prevent injury to their patients by prescribing accurate drugs, discussing possible side effects and knowing about deadly interactions.
What responsibilities do drug manufacturers have to their consumers?
Drug manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers about the possibility of side effects. The manufacturer is not expected to know about unknown dangers or to warn for their potential. For instance, if a drug is known to cause cancer and the manufacturer doesn't warn anyone, that would be highly unethical and dangerous to the public. On the other hand, if the manufacturer didn't know, it would be nearly impossible for him or her to take steps to warn the public about the dangers of the drug.
You may think this means that rare side effects don't have to be warned about, particularly if there's no confirmation that they were a result of using the medication. However, the drug manufacturer is expected to warn of all possible side effects that are known, even if the risk is extremely slight. If they don't, there is a risk of a medical malpractice lawsuit or product liability lawsuit.
Patients who take medications and get hurt typically have a chance to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for product liability. In those cases, there has to be clear evidence that the manufacturer did not warn or adequately warn them about the potential for harm or side effects.