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EpiPens were failing — and nobody was listening to the patients

Patients with life-threatening allergies to peanuts, latex and other common substances often carry EpiPens for safety. EpiPens are supposed to deliver critical doses of epinephrine in an emergency so that a patient in the middle of an allergy attack could keep breathing.

Unfortunately, sometime in 2013, some patients discovered problems with their devices. The EpiPens weren’t working properly. Some of them activated prematurely. Some of them couldn’t be activated at all. Some of them arrived with their contents leaking all over the place or the fluid inside strangely discolored. The patients, naturally, complained — and many contacted the manufacturer directly.

Nobody seemed to be listening. In fact, even after a warning by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014, the drug company known as Meridian Medical Technologies (a division of Pfizer), continued on as if nothing was wrong. It wasn’t until a second letter from the FDA prompted a massive EpiPen recall — three full years later — that the drug company bothered to step up its game and change the way it handled patient complaints.

By then, the company’s own data shows that some patients died due to the faulty devices. According to other reports, the drug company had previously dismissed concerns about malfunctioning EpiPens, implying that product malfunctions were common when products are “frequently administered by non-medically trained individuals.” (In other words, they blamed the patients — instead of looking for problems with their own devices.)

This seems like the sort of thing that couldn’t possibly happen in today’s world, where medical data is constantly being cataloged and evaluated. It certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to happen — but it did. When powerful companies have a brand identity to protect, they may be reluctant to even look closely at the products they put out — no matter how many people it endangers. All too often, they only admit liability once they have no other options.

If you were injured or your loved one was killed due to a defective medical device, like a malfunctioning EpiPen, find out more about your right to compensation. Delaying only helps the manufacturer escape further liability for the failure to act responsibly.


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