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Pharmacists' Duty to Warn

A patient who has an adverse reaction to a prescription drug may file a personal injury action against the pharmacy that sold the drug, claiming that the pharmacy negligently failed to warn the patient of the risks associated with taking the drug. The outcome of such a case will depend on whether the pharmacy had a duty to warn the patient.

In most states, a pharmacist has no legal duty to warn a patient of the risks of taking a particular drug. Such states have adopted the "learned intermediary doctrine." This doctrine states that a patient's physician, rather than his pharmacist, has the duty to warn of the risks of a drug because only the physician knows the patient's medical history. However, if a pharmacist chooses to give a warning, the information must be correct. If a patient is injured as a result of a pharmacist's incorrect warning, the pharmacist may be liable for the patient's injury.

In some states, a pharmacist has a legal duty to warn a patient of the risks of taking a particular drug. In addition, the information provided by the pharmacist must be correct.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.