Articles Posted in Judicial Decisions

As pharmacies have become busier and busier over the past few decades, many suburban pharmacies have begun to offer drive-up service. For many busy patients, drive-up windows are a convenient way to drop off or pick up prescriptions, voiding the need to park and get out of the car. However, conducting such important business through a drive-up window may increase the risks of a Maryland pharmacy error.

A recent case illustrates a common pharmacy error that occurred through a drive-up window. According to an industry news source that analyzed the court’s opinion, a woman intended on picking up two prescriptions for her husband through the defendant pharmacy’s drive-up window. The woman’s husband had Alzheimer’s Disease and high blood pressure. Rather than providing the woman with her husband’s prescribed medication, the pharmacist at the drive-up window gave her alprazolam and sertraline. Both drugs were intended for a patient with the same last name as the woman’s husband.

The woman took the medication home and administered it to her husband. Within a few hours, she woke up to her husband calling her name. She found him lying on the floor, and he could not get up. There were no tripping hazards nearby. It was later determined that he sustained a broken hip in the fall.

Maryland personal injury plaintiffs risk having their cases dismissed if they fail to file their claims within the applicable statute of limitations. In a recent case before a state appellate court, the court dismissed the pharmaceutical claim for failing to timely file a claim.

The plaintiff had filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, alleging that they were liable for his gambling and other losses because he suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of taking Mirapex. Mirapex is an FDA-approved medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease, which the plaintiff began taking in 2006 to treat his Parkinson’s disease. After taking it for two years, he told his doctor that he was experiencing increased compulsive behaviors, including gambling. His doctor told him there was a possible association between Mirapex and compulsive behaviors. The plaintiff raised the issue with his doctor several months later. The plaintiff’s family eventually learned of substantial debts resulting from his gambling, at which point the doctor told the plaintiff not to take Mirapex anymore, advising him to use other therapeutic options instead.

When the plaintiff filed the lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturers, the companies claimed that the lawsuit was time-barred, arguing that the plaintiff filed the case after the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims under state law. The plaintiff did not dispute that he knew or should have known that he had been wronged by the defendant by April 23, 2008, after discussing the effects of Mirapex with his doctor on more than one occasion. However, he did not file the claim until December 2010. The plaintiff argued that the statute of limitations was tolled until July 2010, because he continued taking Mirapex until that time, and because “continuing violations” are not time-barred. Under that state’s law, a personal injury claim must be filed within two years. However, under what it calls the “continuing accrual” principle, in continuing or recurring liability cases, “a cause of action accrues each time a wrongful act occurs,” which means that the statute of limitations begins again for that act.

Continue reading ›

After any Maryland pharmacy error, one of the first things to consider is when a claim must be filed. A plaintiff’s failure to file a lawsuit within the allowable time will likely result in the dismissal of the claim. In a recent decision in a pharmacy error case, the judge considered whether the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed on time.

The Facts

According to a local news report discussing the recent decision, the 90-year-old patient had a prescription filled at a pharmacy and suffered an overdose. The woman’s son alleged that she was given an excessive amount of her prescription. A pharmacy assistant allegedly prepared the medicine to be taken once a day instead of once a week as prescribed.

Evidently, the pharmacist noticed the error before the prescription was dispensed and told the assistant to remove the extra tablets. However, the assistant left excessive tablets in the blister packages, and the pharmacist did not check the packages. The patient was admitted to the hospital a few weeks later, and subsequently died from an “acute overdose of medication,” according to the medical examiner’s report.

Continue reading ›

Maryland personal injury plaintiffs can bring failure-to-warn claims if a manufacturer fails to adequately warn consumers of a product’s risks. In one recent case against drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, a patient alleged that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of its association with suicide for certain patients.

The Facts of the Case

A doctor prescribed a patient Paxil, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to treat the patient’s depression and anxiety. However, his prescription was filled with the generic version of Paxil, paroxetine. A few days later, the patient committed suicide and paroxetine was found in his system. The patient’s wife sued GSK, alleging that the manufacturer negligently failed to warn patients that paroxetine was associated with suicides in patients older than 24, and that her husband (who was 57) died as a result.

Generic drug manufacturers are required to use a label approved  by the brand-name manufacturer and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and only the brand-name manufacturer can obtain FDA approval to change the label. In this case, the brand-name manufacturer of Paxil, GSK, created the its label, and the generic drug manufacturers were required to use the same label. Labels for paroxetine warned that it was associated with suicide in patients under 24, but did not warn about an association with suicide in older patients.

Continue reading ›

Plaintiffs have to be careful when it comes to filing a Maryland pharmacy error claim. A recent case shows how asserting the wrong claim in a case can result in the case’s dismissal.

In that case, the plaintiff brought a claim against a drug manufacturer for allegedly causing her husband’s death due to the manufacturer’s failure to provide a medication guide with her husband’s prescription. The manufacturer made a generic form of amiodarone hydrochloride, a drug used for certain life-threatening heartbeat irregularities. As a generic drug, it is required to have the same labeling as its approved brand-name counterpart. One of the labeling requirements is making medication guides available for distribution to each patient who is prescribed the drug. The medication guides explain the approved uses of the drug and also explain the drug’s side effects “in nontechnical, understandable language.” In amiodarone’s medication guide, it states that the drug should be used only to treat “life-threatening heartbeat problems.”The plaintiff’s husband died after taking amiodarone to treat his non-life threatening atrial fibrillation. The plaintiff alleged that her husband died because he had been taking amiodarone, which he had been prescribed. The manufacturer allegedly failed to provide the medication guide for distribution, which her husband did not receive when he filled his prescriptions in May and June 2015. The plaintiff claimed that her husband was not aware that only those with life-threatening heartbeat irregularities should take the drug, due to its serious side effects. She argued that the manufacturer failed to warn her husband by failing to provide the medication guide, as required under federal law.

Continue reading ›

Recently, a state appellate court issued a very interesting and important opinion in a pharmacy error case discussing a pharmacist’s duty to inform a prescribing physician when a patient attempts to fill a prescription that required pre-authorization from the patient’s insurance company. Ultimately, the court held that pharmacies have a limited duty to notify both the patient as well as the prescribing physician each time a patient attempts to fill a prescription requiring pre-authorization.

The Facts of the Case

When the plaintiff was 18 years old, she suffered her first seizure. She was taken to the hospital and given a dose of Topamax, an antiepileptic medication. After discharge, the plaintiff saw a neurologist who recommended she continue taking Topamax and wrote her a prescription.

The plaintiff filled the prescription without incident until her 19th birthday. However, when she went to fill the prescription after turning 19, the pharmacist informed her that her insurance company required pre-authorization for Topamax prescriptions for patients over 18 years of age. The pharmacist told the plaintiff that they would follow up with her physician in order to obtain the required pre-authorization. Although not required to do so by law, the pharmacy routinely sent a fax to prescribing physicians offices when a patient tried to fill a medication that required a pre-authorization.

Continue reading ›

Under Maryland product liability law, the manufacturer of a product has a duty to ensure that the product does not present any unreasonable risk of harm to the consumer when the product is used for its intended purpose. Additionally, product liability law also generally applies a blanket of strict liability over all parties in the product’s chain of distribution. This means that any party in the chain of distribution may be liable for a plaintiff’s injuries caused by the product without a showing that the party was negligent.

When discussing the liability of a pharmaceutical manufacturer that allegedly created a dangerous drug, some specific rules apply. For example, in a recent case, the court discusses whether a brand-name manufacturer can be potentially liable in a case involving a plaintiff’s injuries that arose after consumption of a bioequivalent generic medication. Ultimately, the court concluded that the brand-name manufacturer could be held liable under the state’s product liability laws, and it dismissed the defendant manufacturer’s motion for summary judgment.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were two children born with serious developmental delays by the time they turned three, and they were later diagnosed with autism by the age of five. During delivery, the plaintiffs’ mother was given the generic equivalent of the medication Brethine to suppress premature delivery. The plaintiffs were born full-term but later experienced what they claim to be the side effects of the medication.

Continue reading ›

Prescription errors can have lasting effects for Maryland patients. In a recent case, the parents of a two-month-old child brought a lawsuit against a doctor, alleging that the doctor improperly treated their child with the drug Reglan.

According to the court’s opinion, the child was referred to the pediatric gastroenterologist doctor for gastrointestinal issues, and the doctor diagnosed him with severe gastroesophageal reflux disease. The doctor continued to see the child for about a year and a half, and he prescribed him different medications, including Reglan. Reglan is normally recommended for a maximum of 12 weeks, except in cases in which the benefits outweigh the risks. The doctor later testified that he believed the benefits outweighed the risks in this case, and he attempted to wean the child off the drug, but his symptoms would reappear when he did so.

About a year and a half after his diagnosis, the child’s mother began noticing problems with the child’s development, including standing, balancing, and developmental delays. After she heard about the side effects of Reglan on a commercial, she brought up her concerns to the child’s primary care doctor. The gastroenterologist doctor subsequently told the primary care doctor to stop the Reglan prescription, due to the mother’s concerns.

Continue reading ›

Maryland pharmacy errors occur far more often than most believe. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of five percent of all prescriptions filled contain some error. Of course, most of these errors are caught before a patient ingests the medication. However, some Maryland pharmacy errors can cause serious side effects that may carry life-long consequences.

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a pharmacy error case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case was sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defendant pharmacy. After reviewing the evidence, the court concluded that since the plaintiff was unable to prove that the pharmacist or another employee failed to offer medication counseling at the time the prescription was picked up, the plaintiff’s case could not proceed toward trial.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff suffered from several serious medical conditions and was prescribed medication by his physician. The plaintiff’s wife went to the defendant pharmacy to pick up her husband’s medication, and she was given a bag containing two bottles. She did not know it at the time, but the bottles did not have her husband’s name on them.

Continue reading ›

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Utah issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting an issue that often arises in Maryland pharmacy error and medical malpractice cases. The issue was whether the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony should be excluded from evidence because it was late-filed, and if so, whether the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed for failing to present necessary evidence.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sued her pharmacy, claiming that it overprescribed drugs. However, at the time she filed the case, the plaintiff did not designate any expert who would be testifying in support of her case. It was not until the day of the summary judgment hearing that the plaintiff presented the court with the name and information of her expert witness.

Upon the defendant’s motion, the court precluded the plaintiff’s expert from testifying, finding that the expert’s information was provided well past the discovery deadline. After striking the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, the court then determined that the plaintiff was unable to prove her claim against the pharmacy and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information