If you have suffered injuries or serious side-effects caused by a cholesterol drug (called "statins") you are taking, you may have a defective product liability claim. (To learn more about drug-related product liability claims in general, read Nolo's article Product Liability Claims Involving Pharmaceutical Drugs.
Statins are drugs used to lower "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides and raise "good" cholesterol in the blood. There are several commonly prescribed statins currently on the market, including:
- Crestor, and
In recent years, there have been numerous reports of serious side effects experienced by people who have taken statins. In fact, one statin, Baycol, was pulled off the market in 2001 because it was discovered to have dangerous side effects. And a large number of lawsuits have been filed against drug manufacturers in connection with the side effects of statins. The focus of these lawsuits is typically a products liability claim.
In a products liability lawsuit, the plaintiff seeks compensation for injuries caused by a consumer product. When the injury causing product is a pharmaceutical drug, the most common claims are that:
- the drug causes unreasonably dangerous side effects, and
- the manufacturer, doctor, or pharmacy (among others) failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding the use of the drug.
Reported Side Effects of Statins
In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has issued warnings linking the use of statins to:
- risk of serious muscle damage ("rhabdomyolysis"), and
- risk of kidney or liver damage.
Depending on the specific statin you are taking, there may be other possible side effects.
Evaluating Your Potential Claim
If you have been injured by a statin you took, knowing what you're up against may be helpful in evaluating whether you have a valid legal claim. As a general matter, you will have to prove three things in order to win your lawsuit:
- you were injured
- the statin you took causes unreasonably dangerous side effects or the manufacturer, pharmacy, doctor, or others didn't provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding the use of the statin, and
- the statin was the cause of your injury.
In products liability claims involving statins, the outcome of the case often comes down to the second and third issues listed above, and the drug manufacturer and any other defendants will likely fight you on both.
Keep in mind that many drugs are known to carry serious risks; so long as you are properly advised of those risks and you and your doctors decide the risks are worth taking in view of your condition, even if you suffer serious side effects you probably won't be able to sue. (To learn more about evaluating and proving a drug-related product liability claim, read Nolo's article Proving a Defective Product Liability Claim.)
You may also have a medical malpractice claim or other legal claims depending on the details of your particular case.
How Long Do I Have To File My Lawsuit?
The answer to this very important question may vary depending on the law of the state that applies to your claim. Every state sets certain time limits, called the "statute of limitations," on bringing product liability claims. (To learn more about these time limits, read Nolo's article Time Limits for Filing a Defective Product Liability Claim. For the time limit to bring injury lawsuits in your state, see Chart: Statutes of Limitations in All 50 States.)
As with any personal injury lawsuit, file your lawsuit as soon as possible, or at a minimum, make sure you know the deadline.
Class Action Lawsuits
You may be only one of a large number of people who have suffered similar side effects from taking the same statin you took. In such cases, you may be able to band together and file a class action lawsuit.
In some cases, a class action may already have been filed in connection with the statin that injured you. Class actions have been filed in recent years in connection with Baycol and Lipitor. You may have the option of joining that already-existing lawsuit. (To learn about the pros and cons of joining a class action, read Nolo's article Product Liability Claims Involving Pharmaceutical Drugs.)
Defective product cases involving statins or other pharmaceutical drugs are usually not the kind of lawsuits in which you can represent yourself effectively. The legal and medical issues in such cases are often complex and sophisticated. Depending on your case, you may wish to retain the services of a lawyer who specializes in products liability (and perhaps even one who specializes in drug cases).
You may also want to consult with a lawyer to find out if there is an already existing class action concerning the statin that you took, and if so, whether it is advisable for you to join that class action. (If there is an already existing class action, consider contacting the lawyers for the class directly; they will likely be very interested in talking with you.) Such initial consultations are usually free of charge.
For help in choosing a good personal injury attorney, read Nolo's article Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer. Or, go to Nolo's Lawyer Directory for a list of personal injury attorneys in your geographical area (click on the "Types of Cases" and "Work History" tabs to find out about the lawyer's experience, if any, with pharmaceutical drug cases).