A recent ruling breaths new life in Tucson patient's ability to obtain recovery for injuries caused by sale of dangerous generic drugs.
Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled a generic drug manufacturer could not be held responsible for failing to warn patients that its drug had potentially dangerous side effects. In PLIVA v. Mensing, the court reasoned that these types of claims were preempted by federal law. This resulted in the dismissal of many suits against generic drug manufacturers, even where the claim was for defective design of an unsafe drug.
Recently, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in a case called Bartlett v. Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., ruled a generic drug manufacturer can be held responsible where its generic drug was unsafe and caused injury. In that case, a woman took a pain medication called Suldinac. As a result, she developed a horrific skin disease in which 60 percent of her body surface deteriorated, and she was left mostly blind. She went to trial, and the jury agreed the dangers created by the drug outweighed its benefits. It awarded her $21.1 million to compensate her for her terrible injuries.
The drug manufacturer appealed, and the Court of appeals held that the Mensing decision did not effect her right to obtain a recovery where the claim was for design of a dangerous drug. The court reasoned a manufacturer must be held responsible where it makes the decision to sell a dangerous drug.
This is an important decision for Tucson patients. In this age of medication cost cutting, many Southern Arizona residents are forced to take generic medications. If they are injured by a dangerous drug, this decision holds hope out they can obtain reasonable recovery for their injuries.