The top court in Massachusetts ruled recently that consumers can sue brand name drug manufacturers over injuries caused by generic versions of their drugs/ treatments made by other companies.
This ruling – and a growing number like it – are important in product liability law following the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Pliva v. Mensing, which held generic drug makers couldn’t be liable for failure to warn about a dangerous drug because those companies are required to use the exact same safety label as the brand name version. Generic drugs account for about 80 percent of all prescription medications distributed in the U.S. Pliva created a quagmire for consumers because generic manufacturers denied responsibility for creating the labels, but then brand name drug makers were successfully arguing they shouldn’t be liable for drugs they didn’t make or sell. Another 5-4 ruling by the highest court in Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett reaffirmed this. Plaintiff suffered horrific injuries after taking a generic version of a pain medication and sought to sue generic drug makers for defective design. As then-Justice Samuel Alito remarked in the majority opinion, “Sympathy for the respondent does not relieve us of the responsibility of following the law.”
What the recent case, Rafferty v. Merck & Co. Inc., helps establish is that drug makers can still be held accountable when those medications harm consumers. Although this was an out-of-state case, our Orlando personal injury attorneys recognize that this is a ruling to which many state high courts will likely turn when facing similar issues. Continue reading →