The U.S. Supreme Court gave a victory to patient lawsuits against drugmakers, upholding a $7 million award to a woman who lost her arm after being injected with Wyeth’s Phenergan nausea treatment. The Court, in Wyeth v. Levine, voting 6-3, said patients can use state product liability statutes to bring a case that involves companies failing to provide adequate safety warnings for dangerous drugs. In this case, pharmaceutical makers argued that they were shielded from lawsuits by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a treatment and its packaging information. However, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.
“Congress did not intend FDA oversight to be the exclusive means of ensuring drug safety and effectiveness,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court.
The ruling is a defeat for drug companies in a case that might have given them a shield from product liability suits in Arkansas and all other states. Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas joined Stevens in the majority.
This ruling should clarify what limitations exists to bring lawsuits against drug companies for dangerous and unsafe drugs. Under Arkansas law, an individual who has been harmed by a dangerous drug can bring a claim under the Arkansas product liability statute. If you or a family member has been injured by a defective or dangerous drug, please contact an Arkansas personal injury attorney to discuss your claim.