Pharmaceuticals and Deceptive Advertising: When Can You Sue?

Pharmaceuticals and Deceptive Advertising: When Can You Sue?

Pharmaceuticals are a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. However, with that kind of money at stake, there are companies who try to cut corners by engaging in deceptive advertising practices.

If you have suffered harm or injury because of pharmaceuticals as a result of deceptive marketing, you may be able to sue the manufacturer. Read on to learn the basics of pharmaceutical advertising law in the United States, when deceptive advertising is grounds for a lawsuit, and some example cases.

Basics of FDA and FTC’s Laws and Rules For Pharmaceutical Advertising

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring that all drugs sold in the United States are safe and effective. The FDA also regulates the advertising and promotion of pharmaceuticals.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for preventing deceptive and unfair business practices. The FTC has a set of rules known as the FTC Act that applies to all industries, including the pharmaceutical industry.

When it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA is more reactive and the FTC is more proactive. The FDA oversees prescription drug regulations, while the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for over-the-counter drugs.

When Is Deceptive Advertising Grounds For A Lawsuit?

Deceptive advertising is when a company makes false or misleading claims about their product. Pharmaceutical marketing, regardless of the media in which they appear, must include certain key components within the main part of the ad:

  • The name of the drug (brand and generic)
  • At least one FDA-approved use for the drug
  • The most significant risks of the drug
  • The benefits and risks of a prescription drug in a balanced fashion
  • Brief summary of the drug

If a pharmaceutical advertisement does not include these key components, then it is considered to be false or misleading and you may have a case for deceptive advertising. Customers and viewers are encouraged to report deceptive pharmaceutical advertisements to the FDA or FTC.

However, be aware that just because an advertisement may be considered deceptive does not mean that you have a case against the manufacturer. You must also prove that the medication has significant potential to cause harm or has already caused you harm due to the ad to be successful. Frivolous cases that attempt to “catch” companies when there is no case for harm will not be successful.

Example Cases of Pharmaceuticals and Deceptive Advertising

There are many examples of pharmaceutical cases where people have sued pharmaceutical companies for deceptive advertising. While there are many consumer goods lawsuits, the following pharmaceutical lawsuits are standout cases that have really caused harm, or at least had the serious potential to cause harm.

In 2013, the FTC settled a case with Johnson & Johnson for $2.205 billion. The case involved the company’s illegal promotion of the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega, Natrecor for uses not approved by the FDA.

In a more recent case in 2019, a case was settled for $775 million against Bayer Corporation, as well as Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. These companies were guilty of downplaying the associated risks with and deceptively advertising the drug Xarelto.

The ongoing opioid crisis is one of the most widespread and profound examples of harmful pharmaceutical marketing today, with deceptive marketing being just one of the complaints concerning how opioids have been handled and prescribed. Opioids were originally presented to doctors and pharmacists and then to the public as non-addictive, harmless drugs, leading to their widespread prescription and use—a claim that has proven to be wildly, dangerously inaccurate.

Opioid lawsuits are now costing doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies billions. Napoli Shkolnik’s opioid lawyers recently reached one recent settlement for $2.5 million for the family of a man who was prescribed a lethal combination of opioids and benzodiazepines in just one of many tragically similar cases. Our lawyers are also currently handling the New York and Ohio bellwether trials against opioid manufacturers.

While these cases involve many more illegal and dangerous practices than only deceptive marketing, it’s undeniably one of the contributing causes for the misinformation that led to the reckless over prescription of opioid drugs.

Have You Been Injured By Pharmaceuticals as a Result of Deceptive Advertising?

If you or a loved one have been injured by pharmaceuticals as a result of deceptive advertising, you may have a case against the manufacturer due to their false claims. The experienced pharmaceutical attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik can help you investigate your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case.