SAN DIEGO — An Austin, Texas attorney with a professional background in pharmaceutical cases has offered his thoughts on the case of Salvatore Lafata vs. the United States, Thrifty Payless Inc. and Rite Aid Corp.
According to a previous report by the Northern California Record, Lafata of San Diego County filed suit against the three parties in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Dec. 15, in which he accuses them of medical negligence. Lafata alleged that they prescribed him Metoclopramide, also known as Reglan, much longer than the drug is supposed to be taken, which has allegedly caused him to have motor and neurological problems, along with a variety of other health issues. According to drugs.com, Metoclopramide is not to be taken longer than 12 weeks or in amounts that are larger than recommended.
Justinian Lane of Justinian and Associates told the Northern California Record that Lafata suing these defendants makes the case tough.
"The drug has had a black-box warning on the package for a number of years about this very injury; and pharmacists typically aren't obligated to warn patients about the dangers of a particular drug," Lane said in an email interview. "That duty typically falls on doctors."
According to drugs.com, taking Metoclopramide more than is recommended or longer than is recommended can lead to a movement disorder of which symptoms include muscle movements in the lips, tongue, eyes, face, arms or legs that one cannot control and that may not be able to be reversed.
The medication's drugs.com profile also said that Metoclopramide serves as a short-term solution to treat heartburn that one gets from gastroesophageal reflux when people have tried other medications but received no help from them. The website also stated that diabetic people use Metoclopramide to treat their slow gastric emptying.
Lane said if doctors and hospitals were involved in the suit, it would be a better case.
"The black-box warning for Reglan came out in 2009 to warn about long-term use of Reglan," Lane said.
Lafata alleges that the defendants began treating him in 2012, and that in that course of treatment, he was prescribed Metoclopramide for many years. He alleges that the defendants did not warn him about health risks that were possible with the long-term use of Metoclopramide and that they did not diligently care for and treat him.
"A medical-malpractice lawsuit requires the plaintiff to prove what the standard of care is, that the doctor breached that standard of care, and the breach caused the plaintiff's injuries," Lane said. "I'd say the standard of care is not to ignore a black-box warning. Unless they tried other drugs and failed, Reglan should not have been prescribed for such a long period of time."
With this lawsuit, Lafata is asking a judge to rule against the defendants, as well as compensation for special and general damages and medical expenses through a trial by jury. Janice Mulligan, Elizabeth Banham and Aida Van Herk of Mulligan, Banham and Findley are Lafata's counsel in the case.