The U.S. Supreme Court recently reconsidered whether makers of generic
drugs can be held liable for dangerous and defective drugs. The case is
Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett.
As we previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, the Supreme Court
last considered the issue in 2011. In
Pliva v. Mensing, the Court ruled 5-4 that generic drug companies cannot be sued under
state law over allegations that they failed to provide adequate label
warnings about potential side effects. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing
for the majority, reasoned that because generic drug companies have no
choice under federal law but to use the same drug labels as the brand
name manufacturer, they should not be held liable.
In the latest case, Mutual Pharmaceutical raises a similar argument. It
contends that because federal law prohibits generic drug makers from deviating
from the brand-name drug they are copying, they should not be held liable
for any defects in the design or formulation.
Thus, the latest decision will further clarify whether patients will be
able to hold generic drug makers legally accountable. The ruling is especially
important given that generic drugs now account for 80 percent of all prescriptions
in the United States.
We will be closely monitoring the case and will provide updates as they