What to Do After a Seattle Car Accident to Protect Your Future

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A car accident is a sudden and traumatic event that is over in seconds yet it can affect your life forever. Once the shock wears off, the overwhelming reality of your situation sets in. You develop serious concerns about your finances and employment. At the same time, you deal with medical procedures and pain from your injury.

We take a chance any time we get behind the wheels of our cars. No matter how defensively you drive, other drivers often choose reckless behaviors that cause harm to those around them. If you’ve experienced a serious injury due to the negligent actions of another driver, contact a Seattle car accident attorney without delay. It is a smart first step toward protecting your financial, physical, and emotional future.

Typical Causes of Serious Car Accidents

Dangerous drivers surround us along Seattle streets and highways, although we don’t always know they are there. Concentrating on the road and your own driving leaves you little time to notice the actions of others. By the time you do, it is usually too late to prevent a crash. There are a variety of behaviors that can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. A driver may exhibit one, or a combination, of the following behaviors:

Distracted driving – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine people are killed each day in the United States and more than 1,000 injured due to distracted driving. The CDC lists the three main types of distraction as:

  • Visual – Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual – Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive – Taking your mind off driving

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that their annual Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise. Texting while behind the wheel is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. This behavior is especially hazardous because it encompasses all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive.

The CDC shares that sending or receiving a text at 55 miles per hour takes your eyes off the road for five seconds—long enough to cover the distance of a football field.

As vehicle technology advances, so does the potential for serious crashes. AAA research discovered that programming a navigational system is one of the most distracting tasks, requiring an average of 40 seconds to complete.

Distracted driving isn’t limited to technology. It can include such actions as applying makeup, reaching for objects, or eating while behind the wheel.

Driving under the influence (DUI) – In Washington state, DUI laws apply to the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
  • Illegal drugs
  • Over-the-counter medications

With recreational marijuana legal in Washington, there is real potential for encountering a driver high on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the drug responsible for most of marijuana’s side effects. State law states it is illegal to drive with 5 ng/ml or more of THC in your blood for those age 21 and older. For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of THC in their blood.

Drunk driving continues as one of the nations’ deadliest causes of car accidents, despite numerous public safety campaigns. Drivers who combine alcohol with drugs place themselves and others at increased risk for serious harm and even death.

Aggressive driving – In a recent study, AAA found that 88 percent of drivers admitted to expressing anger, aggression, or road rage while behind the wheel at least once within the previous year.

There are several indicators that someone is an aggressive driver. The warning signs include:

  • Tailgating
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Running red lights
  • Speeding in heavy traffic
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or to change lanes
  • Cutting in front of a driver then slowing down
  • Changing lanes without signaling

Aggressive driving can quickly escalate to road rage when the driver takes the following actions:

  • Throwing objects
  • Using obscene gestures or cursing
  • Sideswiping
  • Ramming
  • Forcing a driver off the road

Purposely tailgating is one of the top behaviors that instigates the potential for a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that more than 100 million drivers admit to the behavior within the past year.

A driver’s license is a privilege, and not a right. Everyone has a responsibility to share the road and to refrain from reckless behavior behind the wheel. When the careless actions of another driver cause you serious harm, it is imperative that you contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer without delay.

Common Injuries From Car Accidents

A serious crash can leave you with injuries that may never heal. The sudden and harsh impact may affect your ability to perform daily tasks, resulting in expensive and ongoing medical care. Here are just a few examples of catastrophic injuries that are common results of serious crashes:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. Car accidents are among the leading causes of TBIs. When a TBI is severe, it has long term and possibly permanent effects on a person’s cognitive and motor function. Sensation issues such as vision and hearing are also a possibility with a severe TBI.
  • Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord does important work in relaying and receiving information to and from the brain. A spinal cord injury is often described as complete or incomplete. When it is a complete injury, there is no sensory or motor function below the injury. An incomplete injury means there is some ability to convey messages to the brain and limited sensation and movement below the injury.
  • Neck and back injuries – Severe injuries to your neck or back can result in multiple surgeries and extensive physical therapy. These injuries may require you to wear a brace, resulting in a limited ability to perform certain functions at home and at work.
  • Broken bones – One broken bone is bad enough, but chances are a serious crash will leave you with multiple broken bones. A broken bone in a limb such as your arm or le, compromise your ability to lift items or to simply walk. Depending upon the type of break in the bone, you may face surgery and a long recovery.
  • Internal bleeding – An internal injury isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Diagnosing internal bleeding requires a professional health care provider. Even if you feel fine after an accident, always get checked by a medical professional. You never know what symptoms will arise after you leave the accident scene.

Any serious injury from a car accident can prevent you from returning to your place of employment. Your chosen career and ability to provide for your family can end depending upon the extent of your injuries.

The High Costs of Serious Accident Injuries

Regardless of whether you have health insurance, medical costs continue to rise. Your medical expenses may not stop once you leave the hospital, due to your need for expensive medications, services, and equipment.

For injuries that result in a need for nursing home care, the costs are astronomical. The average nursing home costs approximately $8,000 a month. Other expensive needs may include a power chair, which averages $12,000-$24,000 with frequent replacements needed. Home modifications and accessible transportation are also expenses that may need replacing over time. Depending upon the severity of the injury, a need to relocate closer to a larger medical facility is sometimes another expensive necessity.

Future medical expenses and care are something that aggressive insurance companies usually don’t consider when offering you a settlement. At Boohoff Law, we consider these expenses and research them extensively to better understand your future financial needs.

Contact a Car Crash Attorney for More Information

Seattle police reported more than 10,000 vehicle collisions during 2017. This data demonstrates that it is almost not of matter of if but rather a matter of when people may experience a serious collision. Take two important steps when you are seriously injured in a crash due to the negligence of another driver:

  1. Seek medical attention immediately. Remember that not all injuries are visible—some internal injuries may not show any symptoms.
  2. Contact an auto accident lawyer. Seeking the advice of an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney is top-of-the-list in actions you must take to protect you and your family’s future.

It is not uncommon in the days and weeks following a crash to hear from the other driver’s insurance company. Chances are they will offer you a large sum in order to settle the case quickly. While the initial offer may appear attractive, it most likely isn’t enough money to cover your long term medical expenses.

Having someone to represent your best interests is crucial for securing the compensation you deserve. While each case is different, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Negotiating with insurance companies isn’t easy. It is something you need an experienced law firm to do for you. Look for someone who knows the tactics insurance companies use to delay or deny payment, particularly when it comes to Washington law.

When it comes to litigation in personal injury cases, time is not on your side. Let an experienced car accident lawyer review your case as soon as possible. Should you proceed with litigation, you must do so so before the statute of limitations expires. The time required to interview witnesses and to conduct research is why contacting an attorney is a top priority. As you become focused on future surgeries and rehabilitation, time can easily slip away. The accident that resulted in your painful injuries was unfair, and the driver must be held accountable for their actions. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver, discuss your options for a wrongful death case.

You want someone who keeps their clients informed throughout the process. You never want to wonder about the status of your case, so your lawyer should always welcome your calls and questions. A caring and professional team should prove willing to meet with you at your home or the hospital if necessary.

If a lawyer cannot reach a fair settlement with an insurance company, you want someone who is unafraid to go to trial.

No one should suffer physically, financially, or emotionally due to the reckless behavior of another driver. A quick trip to the store or your commute to work can turn to tragedy in a second when another driver chooses to drink and drive or to text a friend.

Road Rash Injuries Can Derail Lives

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Road rash is the informal term used to describe an abrasion(s) on a person’s body after they come in contact with a road. Motorcyclists and bicyclists face the most risk of suffering road rash injuries when they are in an accident, and get thrown from their bikes; however, those who get ejected from their motor vehicle in a severe traffic accident or pedestrians who are thrown when struck by a motor vehicle might also suffer road rash injuries.

The aftermath of road rash can permanently alter a person’s life, depending on the severity. This guide provides a broad overview about the types of road rash, their associated symptoms, and common treatment options. We also cover parties who might be responsible for road rash injuries and under what circumstances you might be able to seek compensation when you or a loved one has sustained road rash injuries.

Types of Road Rash

Road rash covers a broad range of injuries which might occur when a person’s body comes in contact with a road surface such as asphalt or gravel. As you dig deeper into your understanding of the injury, you will find two different types of road rash:

  • Avulsion injury. The most common type of road rash occurs when layers of skin peel away from the body as it slides across the road surface. Avulsion-type road rash might result in exposed fat and muscle. In the most severe cases, an avulsion injury might leave bone exposed. Surface abrasions, sometimes called strawberries or raspberries, often heal on their own within a few weeks. In severe cases, it’s not uncommon for victims to undergo one or more corrective surgeries which involve skin grafting.
  • Compression injury. A compression injury occurs when the body, arms, or legs gets crushed or “compressed” between two objects. Among accidents which result in road rash injuries, a compression injury is most likely to occur in a motorcycle accident. The biker gets crushed between the road and the bike, causing bruises, muscle damage, and multiple fractures. Compression injuries are often serious and need immediate, and perhaps continued medical treatment.

Degrees of Road Rash

Much like burns, medical professionals evaluate the severity of road rash injuries and categorize them by degree. The degrees of injury from the least severe to most severe are:

First-Degree Road Rash.

A first-degree road rash injury is superficial, only scraping the top layer of skin. It’s similar to what happens when a child falls and skins a knee. Those who suffer first-degree road rash injury have a good chance their injury will heal completely within a few weeks and not leave a permanent scar. While it’s always in your best interest to get checked out by a medical professional, especially after another party causes an accident, those who suffer first-degree road rash typically do not need medical treatment.

Second-Degree Road Rash

The next degree of road rash injury differs from first-degree road rash because it breaks the epidermis, the top layer of skin. These wounds also typically heal on their own, and permanent scars are unlikely. Yet, when the skin is open it’s common for pieces of dirt, sand, gravel, and/or asphalt to plant themselves in the wound when the skin slides along a dirty road. When not properly cleaned, second-degree road rash can lead to severe, even deadly infections. Those who suffer second-degree road rash must remove, or better yet, have a medical professional remove visible pieces of stones and gravel, followed by a thorough cleaning of the wounded area with iodine, betadine, or saline to disinfect the area so it heals well.

Third-Degree Road Rash

The most severe road rash, third-degree road rash, often leaves scarring and permanent damage to victims. When the skin scrapes across the road, both the epidermis, and the dermis, which is the second layer of skin, peel away from the body. This leaves fat and muscle tissue exposed, and sometimes bone. Third-degree road rash requires immediate medical treatment, and will often include one or more skin grafts or reconstructive surgeries. It’s highly likely third-degree road rash will leave permanent damage and/or scarring.

If you choose not to seek immediate medical treatment after a first- or second-degree road rash injury, you need to watch for specific signs and symptoms of infection. If any of them occur, you must head to the doctor as soon as possible:

  • Increased swelling or redness around the wound(s)
  • Increased feeling of warmth or heat surrounding the wound(s)
  • Increasing pain
  • Pus which is draining from the wound (s)
  • Red streaks around the wounds(s)

How to Avoid Road Rash

Even when motorcyclists, cyclists, and others at risk for a road rash injury, follow the rules of the road, they might be involved in a traffic collision because of another party’s negligence. Some things can help prevent road rash, or at least mitigate its damage, so the injuries might not cause permanent damage. They include:

  • Wearing a helmet. All bicycle riders across the Greater Seattle area must wear helmets and motorcyclists must comply with the mandatory state-wide helmet law. Yet, some choose to tempt fate and avoid using a helmet. Those involved in traffic collisions without a helmet risk road rash on their heads, in addition to the impact and trauma of impact which might result in a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Bikers should also invest in a full-face helmet. Open helmets protect the skull, but not the face.
  • Leatherwear. Especially relevant for those on motorcycles, leather jackets and pants will absorb some or most of the sliding action across a road surface which might occur in a motorcycle accident. In severe accidents, occurring at high speeds, the road might wear through the leather, but it’s highly unlikely a biker will suffer third-degree road rash when they are wearing leather.
  • Gloves. Invest in a good pair of riding gloves with palm sliders. When humans fall they naturally try to break their fall with their hands. In a motorcycle accident, a biker might try to brace himself and suffer a painful road rash injury if they aren’t wearing the right gear on their hands. Good gloves can also prevent fracture and help protect wrists from fractures.
  • Proper clothing. While motorcyclists wear leather for protection, those on bicycles also need to make sure they wear the proper clothing and footwear. If nothing else, a good pair of pants and close-toed shoes will help prevent road rash injuries which might occur on a bicycle. Consult with your favorite cycling gear shop to find out the best protective clothing for riding.

Liability in Washington Road Rash Injuries

Many different scenarios might cause an accident which leads to road rash injuries. Some examples of parties a Washington court might find liable for road rash injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle drivers. When drivers on the road make poor choices or don’t follow traffic regulations, they risk causing a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident. Drunk or drugged driving, distracted driving, speeding, and tailgating might all lead to accidents which result in a severe road rash injury. Drivers must also be aware of their blind spots and make sure to check them before turning or switching lanes to avoid hitting bikes which are sometimes difficult to see. When driver negligence results in an accident, the court can find they are liable for damages related to road rash injuries.
  • Motorcycle and bicycle manufacturers. Companies who sell defective motorcycles, bicycles, helmets, or defective parts can be held liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit when a defect causes an accident resulting in a severe injury, such as road rash. In fact, any party involved in the chain of distribution for a bike, helmet, or bike part might be partially or fully liable for damages. This includes manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.
  • City of Seattle, State of Washington, or other government entity. When a poorly maintained road leads to an accident and injury, the government entity responsible for road maintenance might be liable for damages in a Washington court. The notion of a poorly maintained road includes a variety of things such as uncleared debris, potholes, sinkholes, missing traffic signs, poor road design, and malfunctioning travel signals.

Recovering Damages After a Road Rash Injury

Under Washington law, those who suffer a road rash injury in a traffic accident can seek compensation for damages from liable parties in civil court. Washington courts award punitive and compensatory damages. Punitive damages are rare and reserved for cases of willful harm or extreme negligence.

The vast majority of accident victims who receive compensation for their injuries, collect compensatory damages, which are meant to offset the financial and emotional costs of a severe accident and accompanying injuries. Compensatory damages you might receive in a settlement, or as a result of a verdict in your favor, include:

  • Medical expenses including ambulance service, emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic scans, and prescription medications for pain management and infection
  • Future medical expenses, which are especially common in severe cases of road rash because victims often need one or more skin grafts or reconstructive surgeries
  • Rehabilitation costs including visits to physical therapists and other specialists, as well as assistive devices such as crutches, canes, and wheelchairs
  • Lost wages for time missed from work due to road rash injury, hospitalization, and recovery
  • Lost earning capacity for a road rash injury which results in severe and permanent damage, which prevents a victim from returning to their job
  • Compensation for the physical pain and suffering of a road rash injury, which is excruciating for many victims
  • Compensation for the mental anguish which accompanies a severe injury and recovery
  • Compensation for scarring and disfigurement—even with multiple skins grafts or reconstructive surgeries, many victims will suffer permanent scars they will have for the rest of their lives
  • Other non-economic damages which might apply to a particular case such as loss of consortium with a spouse or loss of quality of life

If you lost a loved one as a result of a road rash injury, you might be eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit depending on your relationship with the deceased. In addition to some of those mentioned above, you might also recover funeral expenses and burial costs. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action for you and your family.

Get the Legal Help You Need After Suffering Road Rash Injuries

When a motorcyclist suffers road rash injuries, it can devastate injured victims and their families. The emotional stress and financial challenges which accompany a severe injury can dwarf the physical pain and discomfort associated with road rash injuries. An empathetic legal team will understand the difficulties you might experience in the aftermath of a road rash injury. It can investigate your accident, handle communications and negotiations with the insurance company, and litigate your case when settlement isn’t an option.

If you or a loved one has suffered road rash in a motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or other type of traffic accident, you deserve compensation when another party’s negligence caused you harm. Washington law entitles you to seek damages from the at-fault party, as long as you do so within the statute of limitations period which applies to your case. In most cases, you will have three years from the date of injury, but you need to consult with your attorney to be certain of which time limit applies to your case.

Medical Errors

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Have you ever been the victim of a medical error? Before you answer, consider if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of American patients who had an adverse drug reaction but didn’t tell your doctor or pharmacist. While medication errors don’t always lead to catastrophic outcomes, they are still capable of causing harm. The NCBI.gov article, “Medication Errors“ by Dr. Rayhan A. Tariq and Clinical Pharmacist Yevgeniya Scherbak, examined the problem and estimated the numbers. Their research determined that drug-related errors cause numerous problems, including 7,000 to 9,000 deaths each year in America alone.

Since opioids began monopolizing the medication error spotlight, you’ve probably heard very little about other drug issues. Narcan overdose supplies, emergency police responders, and emergency health services have strained government finances. Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, has joined other states in suing opioid manufacturers, shippers, and others in the chain of the drug’s distribution.

As you contemplate the recent overdoses and deaths, it’s important to remember that many overdoses occurred while the victims were taking opioid medications legitimately prescribed by their healthcare providers. Of the 742 overdose deaths in Washington during 2017, The National Institute on Drug Abuse documented 343 deaths due to prescription opioids.

It’s Not Just About Opioids

Other drug error numbers seem small by comparison but they’re still out there. Drug errors are consistently included among the top medical errors, both nationally and in Washington. The Washington Insurance Commissioner’s 2017 Medical Malpractice Annual Report lists drug errors under the category “Error/Improper performance.” The report is an analysis of medical malpractice insurers in the state and lists only basic details for the 196 drug error cases included.

The numbers aren’t exactly staggering but that’s primarily because many drug errors remain unreported. The totals include reported, settled, and/or closed prescription drug-related claims in these categories.

  • “Wrong dosage ordered of correct medication,” 39
  • “Wrong medication administered,” 42
  • “Wrong dosage administered,” 38
  • “Wrong medication ordered,” 39
  • “Wrong medication dispensed,” 21
  • “Wrong dosage dispensed,” 17

Drug Errors are Medical Malpractice. Medication errors occur because a nurse, pharmacist, prescribing physician, or practitioner failed to meet “the accepted standard of care“ as defined by the Revised Code of Washington. While not every error causes major problems, some do. They cause a range of injuries from minor illnesses and conditions to fatalities. Because injured patients don’t always report suspected medication problems, the problems continue unabated.

More Prescribed Drugs Means More Drug Errors Occur

People rely on prescription medications and their healthcare providers give them what they need (and sometimes what they want.) Although the written prescription rate has gone down from previous decades, the numbers are still high. The CDC’s report, Prescription Drug Use in The United States, 2015 to 2016, projects some interesting data from their Health and Nutrition Survey:

  • 45.8 percent of the US population used prescription drugs the 30 days preceding the survey
  • As subjects age, prescription drug use increases
  • Rates of prescription drug use vary by age: 18 percent for ages 12 and under up to 85 percent for ages 60 and over
  • The most frequently prescribed drugs: bronchodilators, central nervous system stimulants, antidepressants, lipid-lowering drugs, also vary by age.

Tariq and Scherbak’s medication research determined that a key part of the drug problem is that there are numerous medication options. Healthcare providers have over 6,800 different medication choices when prescribing drugs for their patients. It’s easy to see why 50 percent of drug errors occur during the ordering/prescribing stage. The sheer number of brands and variations complicate the prescription process.

Healthcare providers sometimes specify the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or the wrong frequency. Errors also occur during prescription transcribing, dispensing, administration and monitoring. Providers write illegible prescriptions. Pharmacists put the wrong instructions on medication labels. Medical providers dispense medication to the wrong patients. Physicians fail to research and monitor patient allergies and organ functions. Drug interactions occur when providers fail to document vitamins, herbs, supplements, over-the-counter medications, and other prescriptions.

Drug Companies Market Directly to You

Drug errors weren’t as much of a problem in previous decades. That’s primarily because medical professionals didn’t prescribe as many medications as they do now. That increase didn’t happen by accident. Drug companies have helped mold patients into the drug consumers they are today. As with most manufacturers, they increased their profits by employing traditional marketing methods:

  • Sell more of the same products to the same consumers
  • Create new products
  • Cultivate new consumers and new markets

Long before Americans started buying ED prescriptions online or asking their doctors about RLS or OAB, pharmaceutical companies decided it was time to include drug consumers in their marketing schemes. “A History of Drug Advertising,“ a PubMed/Millbank Quarterly article by Julie Donohue, discusses how drug manufacturers began direct-to-consumer advertising (DCTA) in the early 80s. The idea of selling directly to patients was a timely concept that supported consumer’s medical rights trends. It also challenged the public in several ways:

  • Removed the middle man (health professionals) from drug marketing
  • Created a sense of urgency about existing diseases
  • Inspired modifications in diagnosis standards for cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions
  • Encouraged self-diagnosis by targeting specialized markets with ads and commercials

Commercials Must Follow FDA Guidelines

The Food and Drug Administration laid out the DCTA ground rules in the Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987. The rules are included in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, §202, Prescription Drug Advertising and §203, Prescription Drug Marketing. You probably don’t know these guidelines, but TV commercials, radio spots, and magazine ads adhere to the rules.

Drug ads must follow specific rules for layout, proprietary names, and ingredients. Each ad promoting a proprietary drug must also include warnings describing side-effects and contraindications. Pharmaceutical companies have no choice so they comply with these guidelines (mostly) but they do it creatively. When a commercial airs, patients don’t necessarily hear or see those warnings. Drug companies have become masters of creating commercials that both inform and entertain.

TV Commercials Warn About Side Effects but You Might Not Notice

If you’ve seen the Toujeo diabetes medication commercial, it probably made you smile… and maybe even dance. Of course, you missed the warnings: “allergic reactions,” “body rash,” “trouble breathing.” You were probably too distracted by the cool middle-aged guy dancing through the office and flirting with the cute girl at the gym. You probably didn’t hear the warnings and side effects: the song “Let’s Groove Tonight” upstaged those messages throughout the entire commercial.

In the “See Me Now” Cosentyx commercials, Cyndi Lauper and her friends might have sucked you in with their tragic psoriasis “before” selfies and their beautifully bare “after”Cosentyx skin. You might not have heard the soothing voice-over explaining “inflammatory bowel disease” and other unpleasant side effects.

We Told You Not to Take It!

Disclaimers attempt to make drug consumers responsible for bad drug reactions or allergies. A few ads include a phrase that begins, “Don’t take ____ if you’re allergic to…” Companies word these disclaimers to make medication research and monitoring seem like a patient’s responsibility when it’s clearly a medical professional’s duty. Some consumers might know if they are allergic to blueberries or even penicillin. Most have no way of knowing if they’re allergic to a new drug until after they’ve taken it and suffered the consequences. That won’t prevent an attorney from asserting an assumption of risk liability defense on behalf of a drug distributor or seller. After all, the commercial told you not to take it.

Drug ads follow FDA guidelines by describing side-effects during their commercials. The Toujeo commercial and others also post written warnings on the screen. Unfortunately, they make it easy to overlook them. The side-effect/warnings voice-overs are often soft, sexy, or mellow. If you hear warnings over the music or notice them in spite of the dancing, they come across as harmless, even silly; but that’s the point. They’ve done what manufacturers want drug commercials to do: sell you on the benefits, warn you about the risks, but keep you interested enough to schedule a visit with your doctor.

One interesting aspect of these commercials is that each manufacturer must get FDA approval before marketing a drug. FDA’s compliance division also monitors drug ads on TV, print media, and websites. Drug manufacturers walk a fine line between compliance and non-compliance. Based on examples of actual FDA warning letters, the risk of non-compliance involves few consequences.

“Disease Awareness” Marketing

Drug companies can’t market a new medication until it’s jumped through the FDA’s hoops, but they have an alternative to grab the spotlight. They market the disease instead. Before a company sells a drug, the FDA must review its formula, uses, patents, and a long list of additional factors. They must also approve a company’s marketing plans before they introduce their new drug to consumers.

The pharmaceutical company strategy for addressing FDA restrictions and delays involves targeting the consumer long before they release a drug. Often, the initial on-air marketing campaign for a new drug doesn’t mention the drug at all. These unbranded commercials inform consumers about diseases and their potential consequences. Sometimes it’s a disease you never heard of. Other times its an old condition with a catchy new name (Dry Eye, Low-T, HPV, etc.).

Disease marketing creates a need by grabbing the target market’s attention. They create a sense of urgency that makes people take notice of conditions they might have been ignoring for years. These types of campaigns create “disease awareness.” Unbranded ads encourage viewers to recognize “problems” that they might not have considered problematic before. When a drug company finally releases the appropriate drug, consumers are ready to buy.

The JAMANetwork.com article, “Medical Marketing in the United States, 1997-2016“ by Doctors Lisa M Shwartz and Steven Roloshin, discusses how current DTC marketing strategies developed. Drug advertisers increased their DTC spending from 1.3 billion dollars in 1997 to 6 billion dollars in 2016. If you sense that they used a lot of that money to bombard you with TV ads, you’re right. The number of televised drug ads increased from 72,000 commercials in 1997 to 663,000 in 2016.

Rebranding a Disease/Condition

In the BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics “Viewpoint” article, pharmaceutical and academic professionals discuss “Inventing a disease to sell low libido.” The article talks about “condition branding.” This marketing technique often begins with physicians. Drug companies fund accredited medical education courses that promote condition awareness. To sell the condition low libido, for example, multiple online classes educated medical personnel about “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” a disease a woman might not realize she has. Coincidentally, the FDA was simultaneously considering approval for a drug to treat the condition.

Before a drug company begins developing a drug or initiating a disease marketing campaign, they gage its chances for financial success. If their potential medication is for an existing, not-so-urgent condition, they give the condition a makeover. The goal: make it identifiable and memorable.

For example, drug companies rebranded erectile dysfunction to ED, giving it a far simpler name. They also reinvented RLS, SAD, and other new yet old conditions. When a person relates to a condition and it’s easy enough to remember, they may mention it to their doctor. The doctor will know about it because drug companies will have educated them ahead of time.

Talk to Your Doctor if You Have a Concern

Drug companies are experts at sales, drug development, and marketing. It’s important that consumers understand that. Knowing that fact, you must still act prudently if you’re already taking medication.

  • If you have questions about a drug, the best time to get answers is before you walk out of your doctor’s office.
  • To help your healthcare provider minimize adverse drug and supplement interactions, provide a comprehensive list of your medications, vitamins, and herbs and ask questions.
  • Never stop taking prescribed medications without consulting your doctor.
  • Be wary of drugs to treat created diseases, especially minor conditions you’ve lived with for a lifetime with no problems.
  • If you suffer a bad reaction after taking a medication, don’t ignore it. Visit an emergency room and contact your doctor for immediate advice.
  • If you were injured by an adverse drug reaction, consult with a medical errors attorney to discuss your options.

Call an Experienced Medical Error Lawyer if You Have More Questions

If you or a loved one was injured because of an adverse drug reaction, you need a medical errors attorney to protect your legal rights. Most medical malpractice attorneys will offer a free initial consultation and will take their cases on a contingency fee basis, so you will pay nothing unless your attorney secures a settlement or judgment on your behalf.