SCOTUS Decision: Consumers left in vulnerable position

On June 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that generic prescription drug manufacturers should not be required to have the identical product warning labels as brand name drugs because of a conflict between state tort law and federal drug regulations.

In the majority opinion of Pliva v. Mensing, the court stated, "If the manufacturers had independently changed their labels to satisfy their state-law duty … They would have violated the federal requirement that generic drug labels be the same as the corresponding brand-name drug labels." In state tort law, manufacturers are required to label prescription drugs to make them "reasonably safe," though federal drug regulations prevent generic drugmakers from changing their safety labels without consent from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Washington Post interpreted the ruling to mean generic drugs now have "more protection" under the law than their brand-name counterparts.

Prescription drug lawyer and Motley Rice member Fred Thompson said, "This is an unfortunate decision because 7 out of 10 drugs on the market today are generic versions, which leaves consumers vulnerable to potentially dangerous prescriptions without being properly warned of the risks. This decision does not impact our continued efforts to fight for individuals who have been harmed by products."

Read the entire Supreme Court majority and dissenting opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court's website.

Learn more about how medical lawyers fight on behalf of individuals suffering from potentially dangerous drugs and fight to hold accountable those responsible for negligent medical care, corporate wrongdoing, and inadequate warning, research and testing.