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Supreme Court to Reconsider Generic Drug Liability

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 become available.