Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Addresses When Cases Against Drug Companies Can Go Forward

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If you have been injured by a faulty medication, you may be able to hold the drug company accountable for your injuries if your case meets certain standards. The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently heard a case regarding drug companies and their responsibilities regarding generic drugs and the required labeling. The court held that cases against drug companies based on medication injuries from generic versions of drugs can only go forward if the original manufacturer knew about possible injuries but intentionally failed to update this label. Cases against pharmaceutical companies are not only complicated, but they can also be expensive due to the resources that pharmaceutical companies have at their disposal. If you are concerned that you have been injured from a medication, along with seeking the necessary medical care to treat your injuries, you should also contact a knowledgeable Massachusetts product liability attorney as soon as possible to help you with your case.

Generic Labeling Requirements 

In order to bring a new drug to market, drug manufacturers must go through an onerous approval process with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Part of the process includes approval of the warning label for the drug that alerts consumers to potential side effects and other risks of the medication. The process for bringing generic versions of already existing drugs to market is much simpler. The manufacturers of generic drugs just need to prove that their medications are essentially the same as the name-brand drug in terms of active ingredients, strength, and route of administration. In order to get FDA approval, generic medications are legally required to show that the warning label is exactly the same as the name-brand medication. Therefore, a generic version is required to have the same label as the name-brand version.

Court’s Ruling

In this case, the plaintiff brought suit against Merck, the manufacturer of the original medication. He could not sue the generic manufacturers due to existing federal law that protects the generic manufacturers. The plaintiff was prescribed the generic version of a Merck drug and had side effects that did not resolve after he discontinued the medication. However, the name-brand medication – and thus by law the identically labeled generic medication – claimed that side effects would subside once the medicine was stopped.

The court held that claims against a name-brand drug manufacturer could not move forward under a general negligence theory. Merck could also not be held accountable for the labeling under state law because the medication that caused the injury was not made by Merck itself. However, the court did hold that there could be a claim against Merck if the plaintiff could prove recklessness. Recklessness would require showing that the drug company knew of an unreasonable risk of death or grave bodily injury but failed to update the labeling. Thus, the negligence claims were dismissed, and the plaintiff was given leave to amend the complaint to allege recklessness if possible.

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous drug or other product, you should contact a skilled product liability attorney as soon as possible to help you understand your rights. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Neumann Law Group serve Boston, Canton, Worcester, and other areas in Massachusetts. Call them today at (617) 918-7790 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free consultation!

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