Reglan Lawsuit Ruling on Generic Drugs Could Have National Implications

Whitney Taylor | January 23rd, 2013 | Posted in Reglan Lawsuit News

Courthose Thumbnail 4A recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court regarding a Reglan lawsuit could be significant for those injured by generic medications. The court ruled that a plaintiff could hold a brand-name drug manufacturer accountable for side effects of Reglan, even if the plaintiff took a generic form of the medicine. Although the current ruling was restricted to the state of Alabama, the decision could have implications on a national scale.

Reglan lawsuit considers accountability

The plaintiff in this Reglan lawsuit, Danny Weeks, claims he developed a severe movement disorder known as tardive dyskinesia after taking the generic version of Reglan. The drug had been prescribed to treat Weeks’ acid reflux. Weeks listed the generic manufacturers Actavis and Teva, as well as Wyeth, the company that originally developed brand-name Reglan. Pfizer acquired Wyeth in 2009, which puts Pfizer in the midst of this complaint as well.

The case was originally filed in federal court, but the the state court was asked to make a decision on whether a brand-name manufacturer could be held liable in this type of complaint. In the decision, the state Supreme Court stated, “an omission or defect in the labeling for the brand-name drug would necessarily be repeated in the generic labeling, foreseeably causing harm to a patient who ingested the generic product.”

A piece of Alabama state law contributed to the Supreme Court ruling. The law states that third parties, such as a brand-name drug manufacturer in this case, could be held liable for an injury, if misleading information by the third party contributed to the injury. In this lawsuit, Weeks is stating that his doctor was misinformed by Wyeth, rather than himself.

State ruling may affect future Reglan settlement amounts

According to federal law, generic drug companies are required to carry identical product labels to their brand-name counterparts. In 2011, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Pliva v. Mensing that because of this law, generic companies could not be held liable for failing to warn users about potential risks of the drugs they make. This left injured users of generic medications in a legal bind, without the ability to hold generic manufacturers accountable.

Although lawyers for the defendants in this Reglan lawsuit call the decision an “outlier,” others in the legal community believe the Alabama court’s decision could have much larger implications. Many who have suffered adverse side effects caused by generic drugs like Fosamax and Darvocet have faced challenges pursuing compensation for their injuries since the Pliva v. Mensing ruling. Now, those victims may find new grounds for lawsuits, if this ruling influences other courts across the country.

At this time, the Supreme Court ruling has merely allowed Weeks to continue with his lawsuit. Because Weeks joins many others nationwide seeking Reglan settlement amounts or court awards from generic drug injuries, the legal community will be watching with interest to see how this particular case develops.