Over the course of my 52-year professional career as a forensic pathologist and medicolegal consultant, I have been involved in numerous civil and criminal lawsuits dealing with various kinds of drugs — prescription, over-the-counter and illicit. Some of these cases have been quite significant, including a few that have been the subject of congressional hearings.
Product liability and medical malpractice lawsuits involving drugs frequently result in multimillion-dollar verdicts. In other instances, the determination of which drugs may have led to someone’s death may provide the evidentiary basis for charging the provider with homicide.
Occasionally, some questions and doubts remain among medical practitioners as to the effectiveness of a particular drug and when it should be prescribed. However, almost all drug-related issues of this sort eventually get resolved. Some dangerous drugs have been removed from the marketplace, while others have been modified. Many times, pharmaceutical companies have been obliged to issue more definitive warnings about potential adverse drug reactions. There have been few long-lingering debates of a highly contentious, emotional nature.