Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Supreme Court rules Drug Companies exempt from Lawsuits

I had to do a search to find out who was in the 5-4 majority. No surprise, it was the five Republicans. The first couple of news sites I looked at simply said it was a 5-4 decision. Reuters at least said the opinion was written by Alito.

July 7, 2013. Washington. In case readers missed it with all the coverage of the Trayvon Martin murder trial and the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act, the US Supreme Court also made a ruling on lawsuits against drug companies for fraud, mislabeling, side effects and accidental death. From now on, 80 percent of all drugs are exempt from legal liability.

In a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s ruling and award for the victim of a pharmaceutical drug’s adverse reaction. According to the victim and the state courts, the drug caused a flesh-eating side effect that left the patient permanently disfigured over most of her body. The adverse reaction was hidden by the drug maker and later forced to be included on all warning labels. But the highest court in the land ruled that the victim had no legal grounds to sue the corporation because its drugs are exempt from lawsuits.


One industry critic was quoted by Reuters after the verdict. "Today's court decision provides a disincentive for generic makers of drugs to monitor safety of their products and to make sure that they have a surveillance system in place to detect adverse events that pose a threat to patients," Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group told the news outlet.


In other words, if the FDA says something is safe, it doesn’t matter if that decision is wrong or the result of lies, fraud or deception on the part of the world’s pharmaceutical companies. And there’s no way to sue the FDA for being wrong and costing millions of unsuspecting Americans their lives. That result leaves 240 million Americans unprotected from an industry responsible for more preventable deaths in the US than any other cause.

[Note that drug companies have often hidden the results of tests that show that their products have adverse, even lethal, effects.]

By Lawrence Hurley and Bill Berkrot
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK | Mon Jun 24, 2013

(Reuters) - The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that generic drugmakers cannot be sued under state law for adverse reactions to their products, a decision that consumer advocates called a blow to patient safety.
In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled for Mutual Pharmaceutical Co, owned by Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, overturning a multimillion-dollar jury award to a badly injured patient in New Hampshire who alleged a generic drug she had taken was unsafe based on its chemical design.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, said the state's law could not run against federal laws on prescription medicines whose design has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A Supreme Court ruling in 2011 found that pharmaceutical companies that make branded drugs are liable for inadequacies in safety warnings of a medicine's label, but not the makers of cheaper copies of those medicines.


Judgment: Reversed, 5-4, in an opinion by Justice Alito on June 24, 2013. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Kagan joined. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Ginsburg joined.

[Even here, the five justices who voted in the majority are not given, except for Alito. We only know who they are because the four justices who voted against the decision are given.]

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