Webinar Q&A for Drug Effects and Drug-Related Issues in Litigation

August 5, 2009

Following are the questions and answers from the Webinars “Drug Effects and Drug-Related Issues in Litigation” held on August 5th and 6th 2009, hosted by West Author Dr. Dan Tennenhouse:

What is prescription drug abuse?

Use of a prescription drug for any purpose or in any manner other than for the purpose it was prescribed. A few examples are:

  1. Getting the same drug from 3 different physicians. This is not unusual with pain drugs, especially since many physicians under treat pain.
  2. Taking an overdose deliberately to get high.
  3. Taking tranquilizers or narcotic pain drugs with alcohol.
  4. Using someone else’s medications, such as a family member’s.

What about drugs obtained directly from a pharmacy in Tijuana?

Drugs obtained directly from outside the U.S. have the same potential for being counterfeit or wrong potency as drugs obtained over the Internet. Attorneys should treat drugs brought over the border from Mexico exactly as they would treat drugs obtained from the Internet. A high percentage are dangerous, and no one can be certain of the pharmacologic effects without a careful chemical analysis of the drug that was actually taken.

I have a case involving a 70-year old man in an auto accident who was on many different drugs. What should I be looking for in the drugs he was taking that might have affected his driving?

There are numerous drugs, including non-prescription drugs and herbal medicines, that impair judgment or reflexes, or even mimic dementia, and can easily contribute to auto accidents. This is especially true in older people. The drug effect responsible is called an anti-cholinergic effect. There are hundreds of substances that have anti-cholinergic effects. They include common non-prescription drugs like many antihistamines (e.g., benadryl, chlorpheniramine), antispasmodics, cold medicines (e.g., theophylline), etc. They also include some of the common herbal medicines like ginseng, pennyroyal, kava kava, St. John’s wort, goldenseal, etc. You will need to investigate every substance he was taking for potential anti-cholinergic effects.