In our last post, we began speaking about the risks associated with the Fentanyl spray Subsys and the fact that it is often prescribed for off-label uses, some of which are actually contraindicated by the manufacturer. Because of the toxicity of the drug, as well as the risk of addiction and overdose, there is a very tight system of control around the drug.
But, at the same time that Subsys is highly regulated, doctors are compensated handsomely for prescribing the drug. As with other prescription drugs, pharmaceutical companies compensate physicians for disseminating information about Subsys and attending seminars for the promotion of the drug. All of this brings up ethical and legal issues concerning how much physicians are allowed to benefit from promotion of prescription drugs.
Fortunately, federal law requires the disclosure of physician payments connected to the promotion and endorsement of pharmaceutical drugs, so that patients may at least become aware of how their physicians may be benefiting from the promotion of certain prescriptions, including Subsys. Still, patients may not be made aware of that connection upfront and may begin a course of treatment involving Subsys without being fully informed on that point.
For patients, the important thing is to be aware that physicians who prescribe any drug must exercise sound professional judgment in doing so, especially when prescribing a drug for off-label use. Inappropriate prescriptions can end up getting a physician into trouble, especially when the patients suffers serious harm or dies.
Patients who have suffered at the hands of a doctor who wrote such a prescription can and should expect to hold that physician accountable. Working with an experienced attorney in such cases is always important, of course, to ensure that one’s rights and interests are protected when pursuing compensation.