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Learned intermediaries: Can they prevent defective drug injuries?

When someone visits a Tennessee doctor's office seeking help for a particular medical condition, a doctor might prescribe medication at some point. Before the patient gets the prescription filled, a nurse might provide basic instructions on how to properly use the medication. This may also happen again at the pharmacy, with the person dispensing the medication alerting the patient to possible side effects or offering printed information about the medication at the point of sale. When a defective drug causes injury or illness, any of these people, otherwise known as learned intermediaries, may be potentially liable.

A learned intermediary is anyone between the manufacturer and the point of sale who may be responsible for knowingly placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer. There are some drugs that are considered dangerous at all times; for instance, many have potentially hazardous side effects but are considered beneficial in other ways. In such cases, the consumer must weigh the options, risks and potential benefits and make an informed decision as to whether taking a particular drug is worth the risk.

It's up to the drug manufacturer to warn prospective users of all dangers and risks associated with a product. However, a manufacturer is not responsible for an unknown risk associated with one drug or another. Manufacturers are obligated to remain updated on any new information available pertaining to their products.

Many defective drug situations are highly complex, especially if symptoms of injury or illness appear after a substantial passage of time. Proving that a manufacturer, doctor, pharmacist or sales distributor is liable for such injuries may prove challenging in court. Anyone considering filing a defective drug claim in Tennessee may first wish to discuss the issue with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Pharmaceutical Drug Liability", Accessed on Aug. 16, 2017

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