A current U.S. Supreme Court case may have striking implications for personal injury lawsuits with regard to generic drugs. Generic drugs, the less expensive versions of brand-name drugs, make up 80% of prescriptions today. And unfortunately, many prescriptions injure thousands of Americans each year.
The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for reviewing drugs and deciding whether they are safe to market. When the patent on a brand-name drug expires, other companies are free to create generic versions of the drug. These generics are required to be equivalent to the original, brand-name drug.
In late March, the Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides of the case, which concerns whether or not Americans can hold the makers of generic drugs responsible for their injuries. At issue is whether an individual can sue a generic drug maker for any injuries after the FDA already deemed the drug safe to market.
According to a recent article in the LA Times, a lawyer for the drug maker argued that juries should not be permitted to determine that a drug previously approved is too dangerous to be sold. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia seemed to agree, questioning whether “ordinary citizens are qualified to decide whether a drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.” Justices Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan, on the other hand, suggested that the FDA approval of a drug “did not necessarily prevent a jury from finding it was unreasonably dangerous,” meaning that the approval of the drug may only designate that it can be sold.
The Supreme Court is expected to announce their decision in June. At stake is compensation and justice for the many Americans who are harmed by dangerous drugs. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the drug maker, injured individuals will be barred from filing suits against companies whose generic drugs contain harmful side effects.