Common Flu Medication Caused Disturbing Side Effects in Child, Family Claims
A Texas child experienced strange, disturbing side effects after she was given a common flu medication in January.
A physician had diagnosed the little girl with the flu. At that point, her parents were informed that they could give her a medication called Tamiflu if they wanted to accelerate the course of the illness. The girl’s parents decided to administer the drug.
Soon after the little girl consumed the Tamiflu, however, she began to act differently. She started hallucinating. She tried to run away from school. Her parents believe she was about to jump out of a second story window before her mother, fortunately, stopped her. The girl’s father recalled, “The second story window was open, which is in her bedroom, and she used her desk to climb up onto it, and she was about to jump out the window when my wife came up and grabbed her.”
Concerned, the girl’s parents took her back to the doctor. The doctor told the girl’s parents that nervous system complications, such as psychosis, are one of the potential side effects of Tamiflu. Dr. Glenn Hardesty noted that the side effect is rare, but still possible. He explained, “Less than 1 percent is what’s listed in the datasheet. I’ve been in practice 20 years, and I haven’t seen that particular complication.”
The possible side effect is noted on Tamiflu’s packaging in small print. However, the little girl’s parents wish that medical professionals had emphasized such a scary side effect. The girl’s father said, “I don’t think the 16 hours of symptom relief from the flu is worth the possible side effects that we went through.”
He advised other parents to carefully research medications before giving them to children. He remarked, “Know that side effects are there for a reason. They’re written down for a reason. I guess they can happen, and we got the short end of the stick.”
The United States Food and Drug Administration has noted that children and teenagers may be at a higher risk of suffering side effects from Tamiflu:
“Children and teenagers with the flu may be at a higher risk for seizures, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness. These serious side effects may happen shortly after beginning Tamiflu or may happen in people when the flu is not treated. These serious side effects are not common but may result in accidental injury to the patient. People who take Tamiflu should be watched for signs of unusual behavior and a healthcare provider should be contacted right away if the patient shows any unusual behavior while taking Tamiflu.”
In Indiana, a 16-year-old high school football player was prescribed Tamiflu after being diagnosed with the flu. Shortly after that, his personality changed significantly. Charlie Harp did not get better—he ended up committing suicide. A happy, driven teen, his family blames Tamiflu for his death. Charlie’s uncle, Brad Ray, said, “We were just thinking the whole way here, ‘What’s different? He’s been the same, what’s going on?’ Then it clicked that he just started new medicine.”
Gerentech is the manufacturer of Tamiflu. It released a statement after Charlie’s death:
“Neuropsychiatric events have been reported during administration of Tamiflu in patients with influenza, especially in children and adolescents. Patients with influenza also experience these events without Tamiflu administration.”
What if a drug causes dangerous side effects?
Drug and medical device manufacturers have a duty to sell products that are safe for consumption. If these manufacturers’ products cause injuries, they may be liable in a products liability lawsuit. In a products liability lawsuit, the injured victim must show:
- A product was defective
- The victim was using the product as directed or as anticipated by the manufacturer
- The victim was injured
- The product’s defective nature was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries
Each of these elements must be proven for a victim to prevail in a products liability lawsuit. If the victim cannot show one of the elements with objective evidence, the claim may fail, and the victim will be wholly responsible for his financial losses.
There are three primary types of product defects:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Marketing defects
With design defects, the defect arises due to the way the product is designed. For example, if a baby bottle is designed with a type of plastic that leaches harmful chemicals, the problem is a design defect because the company intended to use this type of plastic.
A manufacturing defect appears when something goes wrong as the product is being assembled or distributed. Consider a shipment of hair conditioner that is tainted with a harmful chemical during the bottling process. Consumers who use the conditioner are injured. Because the conditioner was mistakenly tainted, this would be an example of a manufacturing defect.
Marketing defects occur when a manufacturer provides inadequate information or warnings with a product. Perhaps a medication may cause severe complications in diabetic patients. However, this warning is not provided with the medication. If a diabetic patient takes the drug and suffers serious side effects, that patient may be able to file a products liability claim for a marketing defect.
A products liability claim may be filed over a single defect in a product. However, many products contain more than one defect.
Proving the defect caused injuries
A manufacturer will take every opportunity to argue that its product is not the cause of the consumer’s injuries. The manufacturer may argue that the injuries were preexisting or that the consumer was not using the product correctly. However, many different types of evidence may be used in a products liability case to support the claim. These include:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Employment records
- Tax returns
- Video footage
- Witness statements
- Expert medical reports
- Product blueprints and design plans
- Factory inspection reports
- Internal documents from the manufacturer
- Phone records
- Public complaints
Other evidence may also be considered, depending on the facts of the case.
Damages in a products liability claim
There are a variety of damages available in a products liability claim. The purpose of damages is to make a plaintiff “whole” again after being injured. Damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- The estimated cost of future medical care
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- The cost of altering a home to accommodate an injury or handicap (such as installing guardrails or stair lifts)
- If a death has occurred, funeral and burial expenses may be claimed, as well as an estimated cost of the deceased’s future earnings.
Other compensation may also be available, depending on the nature of the claim. With the assistance of an experienced products liability attorney, claimants will maximize the amount of recovery they are entitled to under the law. To ensure your legal rights are protected, meet with a products liability attorney as soon as possible.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP if you have been injured
At Parker Waichman LLP, our skilled attorneys are experienced in a variety of products liability cases, including drug and medical device injury claims. To schedule your free consultation, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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