Prescription Drug Lawsuits in Charlotte Hindered by Recent Court Rulings

Prescription drug injuries can occur when drugs are poorly made, improperly maintained, over-prescribed, wrongly distributed or have severe side effects of which the manufacturer failed to warn. pillsdrugs.jpg

Any of these could be grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Charlotte.

However, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year has made it tougher to file suit against generic drug manufacturers. In a decision that sharply divided the court 5-4, the case of Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. v. Bartlett, resulted with the finding that generic companies couldn’t be held accountable for failure to warn of potential dangers when their warning labels matched the design and language of the brand name, as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Failure to warn through improper labeling is one of the most common complaints filed against generic drugmakers.) However, these same victims are not free to pursue action against name brand manufacturers when their injuries were caused by generic versions of the drug that the brand name manufacturer did not actually make.

At the time, Justice Sonya Sotomayor noted that with this ruling, the court had “left a seriously injured consumer without any remedy.”

Still, victims of prescription drug injury continue to pursue justice. Whether the high court will address this issue again remains to be seen.

Several cases involving generic drug manufacturers continue to be brought by plaintiffs. Recently, two separate federal circuits decided on cases involving the generic drug metoclopramide, which is better known by its brand name, Reglan.

This drug was initially developed back in the 1960s to treat heartburn, acid reflux and nausea. In many cases, it’s been prescribed to cancer patients. In some cases, doctors have prescribed it to women to help stimulate lactation.

However, regardless of the reason it is prescribed, all patients who consume the drug may be at risk of developing a condition called tardive dyskinesia. This neurological condition is tough to treat, and involves involuntary, repetitive body movements. In some cases, limbs can be so affected that it becomes difficult or impossible to walk.

A recent case involving this drug was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Maryland, a decision that was later affirmed by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. According to court records, the female plaintiff was prescribed Reglan in 2006, and began consuming the generic version immediately. She continued to take the drug for nearly a year. As a result, she developed tardive dyskinesia and another condition called akathisia.

She filed suit against PLIVA, the makers of the generic drug, as well as Pfizer, the makers of the name brand drug. She alleged numerous state law allegations.

However, the court found that all of her state claims were preempted by the federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act, which governs requirements for generic drug manufacturers.

Just a few days earlier, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear seven lawsuits alleging that brand name drugmakers should be held liable for the serious neurological conditions that patients incurred after taking generic metoclopramide.

Discouraging though these rulings may be, it’s important to note that each and every prescription drug injury case is different. Anyone who has suffered serious injury or death in North Carolina as a result of a prescription drug error or defect should immediately consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Contact our Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Drager v. PLIVA USA, Inc., Jan. 28, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. v. Bartlett, Decided June 24, 2013, U.S. Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:
South Carolina Injury Lawyers Warn of Thousands of Drug Recalls Annually, Feb. 6, 2013, Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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