Alabama Product Liability Costs Drugmaker $40M

An Alabama-based pharmaceutical company is slated to pay almost $40 million to 47 states over allegations that it improperly labeled multivitamin fluoride tablets. The tablets made by the company, Qualitest Pharmaceuticals Inc., reportedly contained less than half of the fluoride claimed.

That’s a problem especially for children, who with a lower dose of the mineral could be at greater risk of developing cavities.

Qualitest is the biggest manufacturer of multivitamin-with-fluoride tablets, and the alleged mislabeling occurred between October 2007 and August 2013. The settlement is the result of a qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuit filed three years ago by a Florida dentist who discovered the problem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association have set certain recommended levels of fluoride in drinking water to help prevent tooth decay, especially for children. Both organizations had recommended that in areas where fluoride levels in drinking water were insufficient, parents give their children vitamins that contained fluoride.

As the New Jersey Attorney General stated upon announcement of the settlement, these kinds of mislabeling actions affect us all. It causes unnecessary pain and suffering to children and their families, but it also taxes the health insurance and health care systems.

Qualitest is headquartered in Huntsville, and is owned by larger firm Endo Pharmaceuticals, which is based in Dublin, Ireland.

This is not the first time the Alabama company has come under fire. Late last year, more than 100 women in 28 states filed lawsuits seeking millions in damages after birth control pills made by the company were packaged in the wrong order, reversing the weekly tablet orientation. That mistake meant the women were taking the placebo sugar pills – intended for the week of menstruation – at the incorrect time of the month. In turn, this left them without adequate contraception, and the result was they became pregnant.

The error occurred in September 2011, and the company issued a recall, and downplayed the number of women affected as “very small.” But 113 women have so far said they became pregnant when they did not want to after thinking they were using adequate birth control protection.

These kinds of product liability lawsuits against this firm appear indicative of larger quality control problems. Holding pharmaceutical companies accountable can be challenging, but an experienced attorney can help.

From a broad social perspective, pharmaceutical companies have a duty to supply patients with good drugs at reasonable prices and to provide reliable information on those drugs.

Specifically, drug companies have a duty to appropriately test medications and drugs before releasing them onto the market. They also have a duty to warn of known (or reasonably knowable) side effects of a certain drug. Although there are some situations in which a drug is unavoidably unsafe – no matter how carefully it is made – it may still get the U.S. Food & Drug Administration green light if there are benefits to the user, as long as the drug is adequately labeled.

When a drug manufacturer fails in its duty to properly label medications or warn of the negative effects, they can be held liable for the resulting damage.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

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