About a month ago, I wrote about an important decision by the Alabama Supreme Court. The court ruled in late January that people hurt by generic drugs may sue the makers of the equivalent name-brand drugs. This is important to pharmaceutical liability attorneys like me because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that generic manufacturers cannot be sued for failure to warn. The high court reasoned that generic manufacturers are not directly responsible for their packaging because the FDA requires them to stick to the same labels used by the manufacturer of the name-brand drug. Using the same logic, the Alabama high court ruled that plaintiff Danny Weeks may sue the name-brand manufacturers over a permanent disability he attributes to generic Reglan. According to AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers, a large group of pharmaceutical companies is now asking the court to reconsider.
The requests are being made by pharmaceutical companies Wyeth, Pfizer and Schwarz Pharma, Inc., all of whom make name-brand Reglan. According to the article, they are joined by numerous industry groups, some powerful, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. They argue that the ruling is not consistent with rulings in other jurisdictions, and will cause a flood of Reglan injury lawsuits in Alabama courts. They also said it’s an established legal principle that defendants are never held responsible for injuries from products they didn’t manufacture. The article notes that courts in 25 states have applied this principle to generic drug cases both before and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
That principle led to criticism of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, PLIVA v. Menseng. Because the court excluded all generic manufacturers from liability, critics argued that people seriously injured by their products would have no recourse. If not for the Alabama ruling, that would be true for Danny Weeks, the plaintiff. Weeks developed a rare neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia, which is characterized by uncontrollable movements and has no cure. Tardive dyskinesia is a known side effect of Reglan, whose generic Weeks was taking for acid reflux. He and his wife, Vicki, argued that he would never have taken the drug if he’d been adequately warned about the risk of tardive dyskinesia. The state’s high court said it was not fundamentally unfair to hold name-brand manufacturers liable because the Weekses’ claim was concerned only with the adequacy of warnings, which are required to be the same in generics and name-brand drugs.
As a dangerous drug lawyer, I welcomed this ruling. Protecting generic manufacturers from lawsuits left people like Weeks with no recourse, no matter how serious their injuries or clear the liability. If Weeks and others like him deserved a warning they didn’t get—a matter the Alabama courts must still resolve—then clearly somebody is responsible for that failure to warn. If the U.S. Supreme Court is right that generic manufacturers don’t have any control over warning labels, it’s logical to lay the responsibility at the feet of those who do control them: the name-brand manufacturers. As a defective prescription drug attorney, I hope this logic is taken up by other courts.
If you or a family member suffered a serious injury or illness you believe was caused by a dangerous medication, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe today. You can reach us through our website or call 1-877-678-3400 toll-free.
Similar blog posts:
Brand Name Drug Makers May Be Held Liable in Alabama for Injury From Generic Drugs – Wyeth et al v. Weeks
Supreme Court Agrees to Decide Whether Design Defect Claims Are Barred for Generic Drugs
Doctors Warn That Supreme Court Decision on Generic Drug Liability Harms Patients