Warning: Liability For Deficient Labels May Extend Beyond Your Own Products

Generally, the duty of care of a manufacturer for product liability is limited to consumers who use the manufacturer’s product.  This duty is based on the theory of strict liability in torts, which requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant actually manufactured the injurious product.  However, in the pharmaceutical industry, courts are beginning to apply negligence principles to extend liability to persons who did not use the manufacturer’s product. In the 2009 case of Conte v. Wyeth, Inc., the California Court of Appeals…
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A Horse of a Different Color… Is Usually a Very Different Horse: Conflict-of-Law Issue Determinative of Product Liability Litigation Outcome

On October 1, 2012, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, affirmed its prior decision to dismiss product liability claims against Sanofi-Aventis US, LLC. arising from the use of a generic version of its popular drug, Ambien. Madden v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., et al. In so affirming, the Court found Washington State law was rightfully applied and the case was properly dismissed against the defendant as, pursuant to the Washington Products Liability Act, “Sanofi was not the manufacturer…
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Pfizer’s Failure to Warn: 1 Case, $5.1 Million

On September 7, 2012, in the matter of Okuda v. Wyeth et al, a Utah federal jury found Pfizer neglected to warn of the potential side effects of Prempro and Premarin, both prescribed for hormone therapy, resulting in an award of $5.1 Million to the plaintiff. This case is one of thousands that have been filed regarding the hormone therapy drugs Premarin, Prempro and Premphase, which are prescribed to treat menopausal symptoms and have been linked to increased risk of cancer according to a…
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Doctors Who Would Have Prescribed Drug Even With More Specific Warnings Defeats Proximate Cause

While August is still viewed as a quieter one in legal circles, last month saw an important decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division on the vexsome issue of proximate cause in pharmaceutical failure-to-warn cases.  The opinion involved the claims of three Florida residents who sued Hoffman-La Roche in New Jersey over the anti-acne drug Accutane, alleging that they had developed severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) after taking the drug and that the warnings as to the risks of IBD were insufficient.   Hoffman-La…
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New Jersey Replaces “Mass Torts” with “Multicounty Litigation”

In a move that will likely please defendants facing consolidated litigation in New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court has approved changes to Rule 4:38A — the New Jersey Court Rule that authorizes the centralized management of similar cases — that will term such cases “multicounty litigation” instead of a “mass tort.”  (A complete copy of all forthcoming changes to the New Jersey Court Rules, including Rule 4:38A, is here.)  This change in nomenclature, which is effective as of September 4, 2012, does not…
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Warnings That Work: Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Secures Defendant’s Verdict

On Wednesday, May 30, 2011, a Connecticut federal jury held Pfizer not liable for damages resulting from a wrongful death, allegedly stemming from the decedent’s use of the product, Prempro. Prempro was approved by the FDA in 1994 and used to treat symptoms of menopause as well as prevent osteoporosis. In 2002 several studies raised concerns over the use of Prempro which was linked to unusually high instances of breast cancer. In this action, plaintiff alleged that the decedent’s six year use of the drug…
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Complete Warnings Are A Pharmaceutical Necessity

In 2010 the anticoagulant drug Pradaxa, otherwise known as dabigatran etexilate mesylate, was approved by the FDA and introduced to the US market, offering consumers a replacement to existing versions of blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin. Since Pradaxa’s release several dozen consumers from Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Connecticut have filed lawsuits alleging injury from the use of the drug, claiming the manufacturer failed to adequately warn consumers of the possibility of the irreversibility of the drugs anticoagulation effects. As of December 2011, the FDA…
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Not So OraSure: First Over-the-Counter HIV Test Requires Enhanced Labeling

OraSure Technologies Inc. took a step forward in its bid to bring to market its OraQuick In-Home HIV Test.  If approved, OraQuick would be the first over-the-counter HIV test that lets people get results without using a doctor or laboratory.  The FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee unanimously determined that the benefits of the saliva test outweigh the risks.  The primary risk being false negative results.  Final-phase trials of the OraQuick home test are reported to have found 5,384 of 5,385 negative users resulting in one…
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New Jersey Mass Tort Court Rejects Brand-Name Liability for Generic Drugs

In a long-awaited and important decision issued on June 26, 2012, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol E. Higbee joined dozens of other courts in dismissing pharmaceutical product liability claims against brand-name companies in cases in which plaintiffs had taken generic versions of the drug in question.  Judge Higbee is one of three judges presiding over cases in New Jersey’s Mass Tort Program, in which there are pending approximately one thousand cases where plaintiffs claim they were injured by ingestion of generic versions of the…
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New Jersey Supreme Court Denies Centralized Management for NexGen Flex Products Claims

In a decision apparently made last month but only published at the end of last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court has denied an application for centralized management of all pending state court claims involving certain NexGen Flex knee replacement products.  We noted the pendency of this application earlier this year. Unlike many applications for centralized management or mass tort status in New Jersey that are submitted by plaintiffs — who often seek the procedural and other benefits of coordinated proceedings — the NexGen application
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