Various Parties Have Filed Briefs With Their Arguments About Whether Or Not An Injured Patient Should Be Able To File A Lawsuit Against The Drug Company
(Posted by Tom Lamb at DrugInjuryWatch.com)
UPDATE: Drug Injury Lawsuits Are Not Preempted By Federal Law (3/4/09)
On March 4, 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, found that FDA approval was not a complete defense to plaintiff Diane Levine’s claim that Wyeth failed to adequately warn against a risk involved with the anti-nausea drug Phenergan.
As stated by Justice John Paul Stevens:
Congress did not intend FDA oversight to be the exclusive means of ensuring drug safety and effectiveness.
Wyeth v. Levine, No. 06-1249 (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
For background information and materials regarding the Wyeth v. Levine case, visit the Federal Preemption of Drug Injury Lawsuits page over at the Drug Injury Law web site.
As some of you are aware by now, this fall the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case Wyeth v. Levine (No. 06-1294). In the case, Wyeth is appealing a Vermont Supreme Court decision that upheld a $6.8 million jury award to Diana Levine after her use of the drug company's anti-nausea drug Phenergan (promethazine HCl) resulted in serious complications and, ultimately, amputation of her arm.
In essence, Levine's lawsuit against the drug company alleges that the drug had inadequate warnings, whereas the company is arguing that the FDA's authority to approve drug labeling preempts state laws governing product liability.
I have long agreed with the position that the application of the federal preemption doctrine to drug injury lawsuits would effectively eliminate a significant incentive for the drug company to ensure that its drug labels reflect accurate and up-to-date safety information, i.e., the possibility of failure-to-warn product liability litigation.
Of course, there are various parties with opinions about how the Supreme Court should rule on the federal preemption issue presented by the Wyeth v. Levine case. Several of those parties have submitted Amicus Curiae (so-called "friend of the court") briefs, some of which are in support of Wyeth (the "Petitioner"), while others are in support of Ms. Levine (the "Respondent").
The American Bar Association has compiled a list of hyperlinks for the Amicus briefs filed in connection with the Wyeth v. Levine case for those of your who want to get an in-depth view of both sides to this very important legal and public policy issue.
As always, we welcome your opinion about whether a patient injured by serious side effects of an FDA-approved prescription drug should be able to file a products liability lawsuit against the drug company. Simply submit a Comment to this post to join the discussion about federal preemption and drug injury product liability lawsuits.