Many people wanting to save money on prescriptions often by purchasing prescription drugs online. Since actual pharmacists are not always distributing these drugs, they may actually be counterfeit drugs instead of the brand name drugs that the person should be buying. 

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has warned Americans about the dangers of buying and taking counterfeit drugs.

Criminals want to advantage of popular medication that sell fast by creating a fake version and selling it to consumers and do not care about the proper contents.

Counterfeit drugs are defined as medications sold without authorization or approval from the FDA. The counterfeit drugs can be:

  • Mislabeled;
  • Defective;
  • Fraudulent;
  • Have different medication contents; and/or
  • Contains contaminants.

How Can Counterfeit Drugs Harm Me?

Fake drugs can harm an individual in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Having unknown ingredients that may interact with other medications or foods consumed;
  • A lower or higher amount of active ingredient of the drug;
  • Life-threatening side effects;
  • Unpredictable side effects;
  • None of the needed active ingredients, which can result in the person not receiving their needed dosage; and/or
  • Contaminants such as mercury or lead.

What Injuries Can Result from Taking Counterfeit Drugs?

The type of drug injuries depend on the specific fake drug consumed. Injures range from heart palpitations and allergic reactions to strokes or even death. A medical condition can worsen as the result of not getting the needed prescription medication needed.

Is Buying Counterfeit Drugs Online the Same as Buying Illegal Drugs Online?

No. Buying illegal drugs online refers to buying substances deemed unlawful to possess, use, distribute, or sell without a prescription. These substances tend not to include drugs that are prescribed to a person as medicine, whereas counterfeit drugs are represented as being standard prescription drugs.

Can I Sue If I Unknowingly Purchased Fake Drugs?

Yes. You can file a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence. The tort of negligence is a failure to use the amount of care an ordinary person would use in a similar situation. In the case of counterfeit drugs, the seller may be negligent in selling the drugs to you.

Even the doctor or medical professional can be held liable if they knew of should of known that the drugs they are giving their patients is fake or counterfeit and as a result the patient is injured.

How Do I Prove Negligence?

A plaintiff in a negligence case must prove specific elements:

  • Duty: The seller of the fake prescription drugs, or defendant, owed the plaintiff a duty to protect the plaintiff from harm inflicted by the drugs they sell.
  • Breach of Duty: The seller violated their duty to protect the plaintiff from harm.
  • Causation: The seller’s violation of their duty was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
  • Damages: The defendant’s actions led to the specific injuries the plaintiff incurred.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Medication Error?

Doctors and medical professionals may be liable for counterfeit drug injuries if they knew of should of known that the drugs they are giving their patients is fake or counterfeit and as a result the patient is injured. Medication errors are often based on negligence theories, since they are generally not intentional violations.

In order to be held liable, the medical professional must first owe a duty of care to the patient. They must have breached this duty of care, and the breach must be the cause of actual and measurable injuries or losses. Persons who can usually be held liable for medication errors include:

  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Persons who work at a care home
  • Persons who provide in-home care at the patient’s house
  • Drug manufacturer

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you were injured from taking an counterfeit drug which was prescribed by a medical professional, you may be able to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit. In addition, an attorney will help determine whether there are other parties that may be liable.