By: Chuck Richardson On February 12, 2016

Pharmaceutical medications are one of the most important technological advancements in human history, helping people live healthier, longer lives. There is a lot of money in the pharmaceutical industry, however, and many dangerous drugs have been released in the pursuit of profits. In this blog, our Tulsa defective medication attorneys take a look at five of the most dangerous and noteworthy drug recalls in history.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a dangerous or defective medication, call 918-492-7674 today to pursue justice.


Pharmaceutical company Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories manufactured Fen-Phen as a weight-loss drug for 24 years until its recall in 1997; it’s estimated that roughly 6.5 million individuals took the drug to combat obesity. Once the FDA discovered connections to heart disease, hypertension, and other pulmonary issues, the drug was pulled from the market. The decades Fen-Phen spent on the market lead to more than 50,000 lawsuits and one of the largest product liability payouts in history, costing Wyeth close to $14 billion.


Bayol spent four years on the market, during which time it was a commonly prescribed treatment for high cholesterol. The drug was found to be especially lethal, however, as it was connected to an especially serious muscle disorder. The condition, rhabdomyolysis, causes the death of muscle tissue, and can ultimately lead to kidney failure. Tragically, an estimated 100,000 people died before the medication was recalled. Bayer, the manufacturer, paid roughly $1.2 billion in litigation damages.


By many metrics, the 2004 Vioxx recall was the largest drug recall in history, as it was prescribed to more than 20 million individuals during its five-year run. Initially marketed as a safer painkiller, Vioxx was found to cause a substantial increase in the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. In addition to the approximately $5 billion paid to victims of the drug, Merck has recently agreed to pay $830 million to investors who claim they were misled about the drug’s safety.


The 1998 recall of Posicor, a drug primarily used to treat hypertension, is commonly cited as an example of what can happen when a medication is rushed to market. 123 deaths were linked to the drug – this may be a small number compared to other drugs on this list, but is a substantial percentage of the <200,000 people who took Posicor in its one year on the market. While the drug is considered safe on its own, it has been found to be potentially lethal when taken with one of at least 25 other medications.


Just a year after Vioxx was pulled from the market, a similar painkiller called Bextra was found to be similarly dangerous. Strong links were found between Bextra and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and it was also connected to a potentially fatal skin condition. Although this recall is not as widespread as the others on our list, it did result in one of the largest criminal fines in U.S. history. Pfizer subsidiary Pharamcia & UpJohn paid $1.195 billion after admitting an intent to defraud or mislead when promoting this medication.

We can help you hold drug companies accountable for the injuries and deaths they cause. Call today for your free initial consultation.

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