Alabama Court Rules: OK to Sue Brand Name Even if Took Generic Drug

Patients who have been injured by generic versions of so many popular medications such as Accutane, Fosamax, Lipitor, Darvocet and others can now pursue generic drug lawsuits against brand name drug makers following an Alabama Supreme Court ruling Friday.

According to the New York Times on Friday, January 11, 2013, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that people injured by generic drugs could now sue the name brand company for failing to warn about a drug’s risks, even though they took a generic version of the product, which the company did not even manufacture. The U.S. Supreme Court had previously barred most lawsuits against generic drug manufacturers since its decision in Pliva v. Mensing.

Although the decision applies only to Alabama, it is sure to be closely read by lawyers around the country with similar pending cases, whose clients have been barred from suing generic companies. This will hopefully pave the way for victims of generic drug injuries across the nation to receive compensation for their pain and suffering.

Patients who claim that Wyeth failed to properly warn them of Reglan’s risks have filed hundreds of lawsuits.

The Alabama case of Danny Weeks claimed that he developed tardive dyskinesia (TD), a movement disorder, after taking metoclopramide (MCP), the generic version of Reglan, to treat his gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Mr. Weeks sued Actavis and Teva, the generic companies that manufactured the drugs, as well as Wyeth (purchased from Pfizer), who developed the drug, for failing to adequately warn about Reglan’s risks.

The court ruled that Mr. Weeks could go ahead with his lawsuit and that third parties, like Wyeth can be held liable for a person’s injury if that third party provided false or misleading information that led to the injury. Mr. Weeks is arguing that Wyeth misinformed his doctor, not him.

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required all manufacturers of metoclopramide to place stronger warnings on their labels, warning about long-term use of the drug linked to tardive dyskinesia. Taking the drug for longer than 12 weeks significantly increases the risks of serious side effects. TD is a horrible, debilitating condition, for which there is no cure. It affects its victims physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and permanently.

Generic drugs are required to carry the very same label warnings as the name brand versions. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Pliva v. Mensing that victims of generic drug injuries could not be sued for failing to warn patients about their risks since they have no control over the content of the drug’s labels.

According to the report published by the New York Times regarding the Mensing decision, lawsuits involving generic versions of Accutane and other medications have all been dismissed in courts throughout the U.S.

As stated in the New York Time’s report, the generic Reglan lawsuit was filed in federal court. The federal court then asked the Alabama Supreme Court to determine whether a brand name drug maker could be sued in such a case. In allowing the lawsuit to move forward, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that “an omission or defect in the labeling for the brand name drug would necessarily be repeated in the generic labeling, foreseeably causing harm to a patient who ingested the generic product.”

Representatives for brand-name companies argued that they could not be held liable for injuries caused by products they did not manufacture.

Generic versions of medications have the same dangers and risks as their name brand counterparts. Presently in the U.S. there is no legal recourse for the countless numbers of patients who experienced serious injuries as a result of generic drugs. Victims of defective drugs may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.

For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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