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Five Worst Drug Recalls

It seems like there’s news of a new drug recall nearly every week. Part of the problem is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t approve drugs based on a record of safety. It approves drugs based on the idea that they aren’t outright dangerous.

But with the relatively small sample size and lengths of most drug trials, it’s impossible to predict if a drug is going to go bad once it’s out in public use. And sometimes, the drug companies themselves ignore the red flags because the potential to make money is just too great. Here are five examples of the worst drug recalls in the history of the FDA:

  • Phen-Fen. Wyeth Laboratories recalled Phen-Fen after 24 years on the market, leaving 50,000 victims of heart disease and pulmonary problems in its wake. At an estimated $21 billion paid out in awards and legal expenses, it’s the largest drug recall ever.
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES). Recalled after 37 years on the market, DES was linked to tumors in the daughters of the women who took it during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage. Multiple manufacturers paid out for this drug since it was never patented.
  • Cerivastatin (Baycol). The cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol caused more than 100,000 deaths and racked up litigation and damages to the tune of $1.2 billion.
  • Rofecoxib (Vioxx). Although Vioxx was recalled after just five years on the market, with over 140,000 people affected out of more than 20 million users. Legal payouts landed in the $6 billion territory.
  • Valdecoxib (Bextra). Bextra was a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribed for arthritis, and it was pulled from the market because of similar concerns as those for Vioxx. However, this drug garnered the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States after Pharmacia & UpJohn Company admitted to the intent to defraud to the tune of nearly $2 billion.

Prim Law Firm PLLC represents clients in cases involving dangerous drugs in West Virginia, and our clients owe no fees unless we are successful in recovering compensation on their behalf.

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