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How pharmaceutical liability can get very complicated

From the outside, it may appear that pharmaceutical liability is pretty clear-cut. If you take a drug that harms you and you weren't warned, you have a case. You can sue to get back money for medical treatment or compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

In some cases, it really can be this simple. However, many cases grow complicated because the lines are more blurry than you may expect. This is because you almost never get the drugs directly from the company that made them. There is usually a "learned intermediary" who acts as a middleman--and there could be more than one. Examples of a "learned intermediary" include the following:

  • The doctor who made the original diagnosis and then prescribed a drug to you. The doctor may also have offered some instruction for you on how to take it. -- The nurse who talked to you about using the drug, perhaps telling you how often to take it or what the max dosage was.
  • The pharmacist that you went to once you had the prescription, in order to get it filled.

Now, in many cases, blame can still be brought back to a specific party, which is often the manufacturer. The doctor may have prescribed the drug in good faith, thinking that the company carried out all of the testing that it was supposed to do. If the company failed to do that and complications arise, the company is to blame.

However, this still shows you how complex these cases can be, how many variables there are, and why it's so important to really look into your legal rights in Ontario.

Source: FIndLaw, "Pharmaceutical Drug Liability," accessed Dec. 31, 2015

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