Generic Reglan Lawsuit May Have National Ramifications

Perry Larkin | January 29th, 2013

Reglan Landmark LawsuitFederal law mandates that generic drug companies must have identical labels to brand name drugs they manufacturer. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2011 case Pliva v. Mensing that this law prevents generic companies from being held liable for failing to warn users of possible dangers of the drugs they’re making. Because of this ruling, users of generic drugs who suffered from side effects were legally unable to file a case.

A recent decision by the Alabama Supreme Court in a Reglan side effects lawsuit could have nationwide ramifications to change this law.

Alabama Supreme Court rules generic Reglan plaintiff can sue brand name drug maker

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit suing a generic manufacturer could pursue compensation from the brand name manufacturer as well. This ruling is restricted to Alabama and is based on an Alabama law that states third parties can be held liable for injury if misleading information from the third party contributed to the injury.

In the case, Danny Weeks claimed that he developed a severe case of the severe movement disorder Reglan tardive dyskinesia after being prescribed a generic form of the drug to treat his acid reflux. In the case, Weeks named as defendants the manufacturers of generic Reglan, Teva and Actavis, along with Wyeth. Wyeth originally developed the brand name form of Reglan. Wyeth was acquired by Pfizer in 2009, therefore this ruling affects Pfizer as well.

Legal community awaits nationwide reaction to Alabama ruling

The case was filed in federal court, but the state court was requested to decide if a brand name manufacturer could be held liable in a complaint of this kind. The Alabama Supreme Court stated, “an omission or defect in the labeling” of the brand name version of the drug would have to be repeated in the generic drug’s label and cause harm to a patient who took the generic product.

Attorneys for the defendants in this case have called the decision an “outlier.” The rest of the legal community, however, believes that the Alabama decision might lead to other attempts to file cases against brand name manufacturers across the country.

Patients who have suffered from side effects of generic medications like Fosamax and Darvocet have so far had difficulty seeking damages for their injuries because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Pliva v. Mensing. These individuals may have legal recourse after the Alabama ruling.

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