We have previously discussed on this blog the various ways in which the federal government attempts to regulate the marketing and sale of various pharmaceutical products. While this is most often done through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with an eye toward preventing harm to the public, at times other federal agencies may need to become involved. One of these, is the Department of Justice (DOJ) which will sue companies when they have violated federal law.
Many times, these companies will settle such cases and pay large sums to the government. While this may act as a deterrent to future bad acts by drug companies it doesn't always make those who have been injured by the drugs whole. For that, private citizens need to file civil law suits. However, knowing that a pharmaceutical company has settled with the DOJ can be an indicator that something has indeed gone wrong, and private civil suits may be forthcoming.
For example, this summer, two companies settled a suit with the DOJ over the prescription cancer drug Tarceva. This medicine was marketed by the companies to help treat a certain kind of cancer called "non-small-cell lung cancer." The DOJ, however, charged that these corporations made misleading statements about how effective the drug would be. The companies decided to pay $67 million dollars to settle the claims against them. A DOJ official stated that companies that make false claims put patients at risk and that in this particular case, it was cancer patients who were harmed.
Being diagnosed with cancer is horrible enough. To then be given false hope that there is an effective treatment available can be devastating, not to mention lead patients to forego other, more effective treatments. Companies that put their own profits ahead of the needs of consumers and patients, especially vulnerable people like cancer sufferers, need to be held accountable, but they should also be responsible for compensating those who have been injured by their behavior. People with questions regarding pharmaceutical liability and protection of their rights may wish to consider contacting an attorney.