Online Pharmacy Lawsuits

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 Are Online Pharmacies Legal?

An online pharmacy ships medication to consumers, based on a prescription that is provided by the person’s physician or pharmacist. Such companies work closely with health care providers and insurance companies, and frequently help the customer save money on their prescription drugs. Most online pharmacies do not actually prescribe the medicine; rather, they simply ship the medication to the patient, based on an existing prescription.

As such, online pharmacy lawsuits are legal actions associated with injuries or economic losses caused by an online pharmacy. Such lawsuits generally arise in connection with fake or fraudulent online pharmacy companies. However, it is not uncommon for legitimate organizations to be held legally liable as well.

Online pharmacies are generally considered to be legal, and as such they are generally allowed to operate under state and federal laws. To reiterate, legal issues can arise if an online pharmacy is not legitimately registered and approved according to government requirements. There are a number of fraudulent online pharmacies that pursue profits through fraud, misrepresentation, and/or illegal transactions. That is why such online pharmacies should be avoided at all costs, even if they appear to promise considerable savings on medicines.

Similar legal issues can arise involving online pharmacies that market their services to United States consumers, but are based overseas. While these types of online pharmacy companies can be completely legal and legitimate, they may be especially difficult to deal with as they may be subject to different laws.

What Are Some Legal Issues Associated With Online Pharmacies?

There are several potential dangers that may be associated with using online pharmacies to obtain prescription medications, as well as many different possibilities. This is why it is advised that you only work with online pharmacies that are trustworthy, and are approved according to United States standards and laws.

Some of the most common legal issues that are associated with such companies include:

  • The Patient’s Health History: Online pharmacy companies generally do not have direct access to the patient’s complete medical history. Because of this fact, they may need to indiscriminately follow whatever prescription they are presented with. What this means is that they may have little to no chance for personally interviewing or consulting with the consumer in order to determine whether this medication will harm or endanger them;
  • Counterfeit Medications: Counterfeit drugs are medications that are sold without authorization or approval from the FDA. These drugs may be mislabeled, or contain contaminants. Some online pharmacies engage in fraudulent practices, such as providing fake medications or providing defective medication which can result in serious injury or death to the patient;
  • Illegal Sales: It is common for online pharmacies to exist because a specific company is attempting to offload overstocked or recalled medicines. These sales are generally considered to be illegal, and can also result in serious injuries to patients;
  • Controlled Substances: Still other online pharmacies simply exist simply as a front for another business, or as a cover-up, in which the company actually sells illegal drugs such as controlled substances. This is especially common for synthetic designer drugs, which may be sold online using a series of codenames; and/or
  • Improper Prescriptions: A prescription error is a type of medical malpractice in which a doctor makes a mistake when prescribing a prescription drug to a patient. Some common examples of prescription errors would be prescribing the wrong drug or dosage, or prescribing multiple medications at once that are actually incompatible with each other. Prescription errors are frequently associated with online pharmacy companies, largely because the company is generally viewed as an “extra step” in the overall process of getting the medication in the hands of the patient. Even legitimate and qualified online pharmacies can experience miscommunications, delays, or other examples of clerical errors that are associated with prescriptions.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured By An Online Pharmacy?

Online pharmacy lawsuits can involve serious injuries to large groups of people. As such, online pharmacy lawsuits frequently take the form of a class action lawsuit. Additionally, criminal laws are also involved.

A class action is a lawsuit that is brought by one or more people on behalf of a group of other people who are in a similar situation. Everyone involved is required to share similar legal issues, and there must be enough individuals involved that it would not make sense to bring separate lawsuits.

Depending on the specific circumstances of each lawsuit, class members may be entitled to a portion of the damages paid by the defendant. Because these lawsuits involve a considerable number of participants, the amount that received may be negligible. Rebates, products, and/or services from the company are also awarded to class action members. Additionally, attorneys fees are generally taken from the damages award, rather than received up front.

Injuries associated with an online pharmacy may involve more than one responsible party. An example of this would be how there may also be legal issues involving physicians, medical staff, or insurance companies.

As previously mentioned, cases involving online pharmacies are generally closely associated with medical malpractice claims. In order to prove medical malpractice liability, a plaintiff must be able to prove all of the following four elements:

  • The medical professional owed the patient a duty of care;
  • The medical professional failed to meet the proper standard of care, because they were negligent in managing some aspect of the patient’s health;
  • The medical professional’s breach of duty was both the actual and proximate cause of the patient’s injury; and
  • The injury resulted in the patient suffering measurable, generally monetary damages.

Additionally, if a lawsuit is specifically filed against an organization or its clerical staff, the plaintiff must prove that the medical staff was trained or supervised in a negligent manner.

Some items that the plaintiff should submit as evidence in order to support their claim include:

  • Copies of medical records;
  • Receipts for medical expenses;
  • Copies of documents that caused a misdiagnosis and/or mistreatment to occur; and
  • Costs associated with their injury, such as additional and unexpected hospital bills to remedy a surgeon’s mistake.

Damages that are awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits generally address the following three areas:

  • Economic Damages: These are monetary amounts that can be measured and specifically calculated, based on a particular harm. Examples generally include the aforementioned items, such as medical expenses, hospital bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and various other out-of-pocket costs;
  • Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are considerably more difficult to calculate, largely because they refer to intangible or somewhat immeasurable injuries. Examples of this include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of activities, reputational damage, and the like; and
  • Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are rarely ever awarded, and are only recognized for such lawsuits in a minority of states. In states in which they are awarded, however, there are generally damage caps or limits that are placed on those amounts as well.

Some other examples of remedies that a plaintiff may request include having a medical professional’s license suspended or revoked, and requiring that the medical facility update their policies and/or health and safety procedures. Such remedies may be awarded in order to discourage the liable party from further misconduct.

Do I Need An Attorney For Online Pharmacy Lawsuits?

If you wish to pursue an online pharmacy lawsuit, you should contact an area personal injury attorney. An experienced and local personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights according to your state’s specific laws regarding the matter, and will be aware of any class action lawsuits you may be able to join. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as necessary.


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