Drugmaker Allergan, which has most recently come under fire over the opioid-based medication Viberzi, has been targeted in numerous lawsuits over the years for many reasons. In the wake of 120 FDA reports of serious pancreatic injury and death attributed to Viberzi, Allergan is currently under investigation by law firms across the country on behalf of patients without gall bladders who have been injured by the medication.
Plaintiffs allege that Allergan was aware of the dangers of Viberzi to patients who have undergone a cholecystectomy and failed to inform the public. There is strong evidence supporting this claim; during the Second World War, a British physician noted that patients who had had their gall bladders removed reacted badly when given morphine, which, like Viberzi, is opioid-based.
Allergan's past behavior also lends credibility to plaintiff's allegations. Over the past few years, the company has had to pay out tens of millions of dollars to settle both injury lawsuits related to its products as well as criminal activity.
In 2004, a woman who had been given an off-label prescription for BOTOX® in order to treat her migraines claimed the medication made her condition far worse. In addition, she suffered from fatigue as well as breathing and swallowing difficulties for several months. Although the jury in that case found in favor of the defendant, Allergan acknowledged that BOTOX® did pose unknown risks as a cosmetic treatment in large doses – and that its medication could affect other regions of the body.
Over the next several years, a number of patients suffered injuries and death due to BOTOX®. According to Public Citizen, there were 16 deaths caused by BOTOX® between 1997 and 2006, in addition to 180 adverse event reports. Although the FDA subsequently required a package warning, two more lawsuits were filed in which juries found for the plaintiffs – the most recent being a 2015 case in which a 21-year-old woman died after being given BOTOX® for leg spasms related to her cerebral palsy. A year earlier, Allergan was ordered to pay $6.75 million to the family of a child who developed epilepsy due to BOTOX® treatments for his cerebral palsy.
In 2016, Allergan paid $38 million to settle federal charges against its subsidiary, Forest Pharmaceuticals, over the payment of bribes to physicians from 2008 to 2011. That same year, 200 women filed cases against Allergan who underwent unnecessary breast revision surgery after their doctors had told them their implants were leaking.
According to court records, the failure rate for these implants was only a little over 1 percent, but the company signed off on nearly $9 million worth of fraudulent warranty claims – essentially aiding and abetting a scheme to profit from the deliberate insertion of an otherwise harmless product.
If history is any indicator, it is likely that Allergan will be paying out millions more to individuals and their families who have been injured by Viberzi.