The Untied States Supreme Court has given the manufacturers of potentially dangerous drugs and medications a magic bullet. The Court ruled in Pliva v. Mensing, that generic drug makers cannot be sued under state law for failing to warn patients about a drug’s dangerous side-effects as long as their labels follow those of the brand-name version.
This is horrible news to the millions of Americans who take prescription medication every day. According to the FDA, more than 80 percent of every pill taken is made by a generic manufacturer. The new law protects these companies even when they fail to update their warning labels in light of newly found safety issues.
Carrie Scott, a Camden, Alabama women learned of the Court’s ruling when her lawsuit gains the makers of generic Phenergan case was dismissed. While in the hospital for rectal bleeding a nurse injected the drug via IV into one arm. Nurses administered the drug improperly due to the poorly worded label, causing the 78 year old to develop gangrene which led to the amputation of her arm.
Ms. Scott sued Baxter Healthcare for failure to warn of the drug’s dangers and for improper instructions. Her claim went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which promptly dismissed her case, simply because the drug was a generic. Had she been injected with the brand-name drug her case would have proceeded to a jury.
Justice Thomas opinion makes little sense and provides no justice to innocent victims. He wrote that “Congress and the F.D.A. retain the authority to change the law and regulations if they so desire.”
Ms. Scott is not alone as this case has ramifications for millions of Americans who may be harmed by other drugs or medications. For instance thousands of people have filed cases against Roche, who makes Accutane. The Accutane lawsuits claim that it causes inflammatory bowel disease. So far several juries have returned multimillion-dollar verdicts. For now those who have suffered the same fate by taking an Accutane generic there is little hope they will ever be compensated.
As a Florida lawyer who sues pharmaceutical companies for dangerous drugs, I urge you the next time you are in the pharmacy and the the pharmacist suggest that you take the generic medication to say no.