According to recent reports, the Alabama Supreme Court has agreed reconsider its previous decision and allow generic Reglan lawsuits to be filed against the manufacturer Pfizer. The justices cite the doctrine of “innovator liability” as the cause for the decision.
Innovator liability would allow Pfizer to be sued by patients who were injured by generic counterparts to brand name drugs regardless of whether or not Pfizer did not actually make the drug that caused the damage. The theory behind this is that it was Pfizer’s job to conduct proper tests and then provide the public with warnings against the potential side effects for anyone who takes any of the drugs that the company creates — even if the patient buys the drugs from another manufacturer.
Reglan, used to treat acid reflux, has spawned thousands of lawsuits over the drug’s side effects, particularly tardive dyskinesia. Other side effects linked to Reglan include “akathisia (severe restlessness), dizziness, drowsiness, focal dystonia (uncontrollable muscle contractions) and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a potentially fatal autonomic condition accompanied by severe hyperthermia).”
Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by patients experiencing excessive involuntary movements of the extremities, lip smacking, grimacing, tongue protrusion and excessive blinking. This decision by the Alabama Supreme Court is significant because the United States Supreme Court ruled in Pliva v. Mensing that the manufacturers of generic drugs can’t be sued or held liable in failure to warn lawsuits because these companies are mandated only to provide the exact same warnings as the brand name versions do. For some time, this ruling has been met with a great deal of criticism (even by some of the voting justices) because it basically meant that generic drug makers get off free from harming people with their drugs on a technicality. That Supreme Court ruling forced many plaintiffs to have to refile their complaints against the brand name manufacturers, which extended the litigation process.