Prescription Medication Fillers May Cause Adverse Reactions

Most local residents are unaware that the medications that they take each and every day include ingredients that actually play no role in helping patients with their condition. These ingredients, known as “fillers,” include various colors and additives. As one involved doctor explained, while a pill includes an “active ingredient”-which is the material that is actually suppose to help the patient-the pill may also include fifteen other things. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys were interested to read in a Chicago Sun-Times story that there are growing concerns about the effects that these fillers may have on patients. To avoid potential medical malpractice liability, involved doctors must ensure that these fillers do not cause patients unnecessary harm.

For example, patients are generally asked if they have any allergies to certain medications. Doctors then avoid having patients take the drug if they have an allergy. But rarely are such questions asked about the fillers included in those medications. One common filler is lactose. Yet, many patients are lactose intolerant leading the drugs they take to cause a variety of complications, like headaches or cramping. Often, these side-effects are incorrectly attributed to the drug itself and not the intolerance to the filler. Therefore, a patient may tell his doctor that he can no long take the medication, when in reality the active ingredient has no ill effects.

Unfortunately, neither the patient nor the doctor may be able to pinpoint the fact that the problem stems from the filler, because filler information is often not included in the packing information provided by a pharmacy. As one doctor explained, this has far-reaching ramifications as an unrecognized filler reaction may “lead to a delay in diagnosis-maybe they stop the medication and maybe the medication was good, and they went off it wrongly.” Therefore an individual’s condition may worsen unnecessarily.

One of the most problematic fillers are those which are used to add color to a pill. Stories abound about patients who have suffered a variety of complications because of color-additives, from runny noses and anaplylaxis to asthma attacks. Often an artificial sweetener is added to pills for taste, but those with hyperactivity are often unknowingly affected by that sweetener. Even those pills which are seemingly safer-such as dye-free medications-can cause problems. These medications often include preservatives which cause adverse reactions in some patients. These types of issues are more often than not problematic in children’s medications. That is because pills designed for kids are much more likely to be flavored and colored to make it easier for the child to take it.

A variety of actors interact to provide medical care to patients. Obviously doctors and nurses provide front-line care, pharmacists work with medications, and various manufacturers design and built products used by these medical professionals. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know that every actor in that process is held to a reasonable standard of care with regard to the patients who depend on their work. When that reasonable standard is not met in our area-perhaps by failure to appropriately take medication fillers into account-then the victim can use the civil justice system to file a Chicago medical malpractice suit holding those negligent parties accountable for their conduct.

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