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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case on Generic Drug Manufacturer Liability

Posted on March 11, 2013

In what has been deemed as a case that can have serious repercussions for those on both sides of the issue, the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the question of whether generic drug makers can be held liable for injuries caused by the drugs they manufacture.

The case stems from a 2010 verdict issued by a jury in a lower court in New Hampshire. A New Hampshire woman was awarded $21 million in damages for side effects she suffered after taking the generic drug sulindac — a non-steroidal pain reliever. It was a particularly gruesome injury, as the woman suffered a rare side effect that caused two-thirds of her skin to slough off, rendered her legally blind, and permanently damaged her lungs and esophagus.

The woman sued Mutual Pharmaceutical Company, the manufacturer of the generic drug. After losing the first trial, the company appealed the decision and the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston upheld the lower court decision. The company then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

What is at question is whether generic manufacturers, who are required to make their drugs to the exact specifications as the name-brand, can be held liable for injuries caused by the drugs they make. Generic manufacturers claim that since they have no control over the design of the drug, they should not be held responsible for any serious side effects or injuries they may cause.

According to The New York Times, the Supreme Court weighed in on generics two years ago when it ruled that generic manufacturers could not be sued for inadequate warnings on their drugs since they had no control over that. The upcoming case is slightly different because the plaintiff claimed the drug itself was defective and never contended she wasn’t adequately warned.

Some trial attorneys have argued that if the Justices rule in favor of generic drug manufacturers, patients will be left with few options if a generic drug has injured them.

The Tallahassee pharmaceutical injury attorneys at Farah & Farah will be keeping a close eye on this case as it develops. If you’ve been harmed by the side effects of a prescription drug, you should know what your legal rights are. Contact our law firm online or call us at (800) 533-3555 for a free review of your case today.