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U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Generic Drug Liability Suits

Posted on July 1, 2013

The pharmaceutical injury attorneys at Farah & Farah in Gainesville previously reported that the U.S. Supreme Court had taken on a case that could have large implications when it comes to bringing liability lawsuits against generic drug makers.

The Court has ruled on that case, and the Justices, in a 5-4 vote, sided with generic drug manufacturer Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., overturning a multimillion-dollar award issued by a New Hampshire jury in a generic drug liability case.

In its ruling, the majority of the Court said that a generic drug manufacturer cannot be sued under state laws for adverse reactions to their products because the prescription drugs they are based on have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Supreme Court ruling stems from a case in New Hampshire in which a woman sued Mutual after she had a severe adverse reaction to suldinac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory generic drug the company produced. The woman’s skin peeled off, she was left nearly blind and she was severely disfigured.

The woman’s attorneys filed a design-defect claim under New Hampshire state law. A New Hampshire jury subsequently awarded the woman $21 million.

In striking down the judgment, the Court ruled that it was impossible for generic drug manufacturers to follow both state and federal laws, and that federal law pre-empts state law when it comes to generic drugs.

Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group, said that the decision undermines patient safety. The group pointed out that the dangers of some drugs are not recognized for many years. By that time, those drugs are usually also available in generic form.

“Today’s court decision provides a disincentive for generic makers of drugs to monitor safety of their products and to make sure that they have a surveillance system in place to detect adverse events that pose a threat to patients,“ the director of Public citizen’s Health Research group said in an interview.

Farah & Farah has been following the developments concerning the adverse effects of generic drugs and will continue to do so. If you have been injured by a prescription drug and have questions about your legal options, don’t hesitate to call Farah & Farah at (800) 533-3555. You can also contact us online to set up a free consultation on your case.