The Supreme Court just decided two cases of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry that are each a big deal to consumers in their own way--especially the one that says you can't sue a generic drug manufacturer for not putting the latest warnings on their product label. That decision, known as Pilva v. Mensing, stems from a lawsuit filed by two women who developed the neurological condition tardive dyskinesia after they took a generic acid reflux medication called metoclopramide. Brand names of the medicine include Metozolv and Reglan. According to the Los Angeles Times, "The drug had been on the market for many years before doctors realized that taking it for more than 12 weeks could trigger the neurological problem."
Name-brand drug makers must update their labels when such information becomes available, but the Supreme Court found that generics don't have to, because of a conflict between state liability laws and federal regulations. "Justice Clarence Thomas said that because the federal Food and Drug Administration must approve changes in the warning labels, the generic makers may not be sued under state liability laws for failing to warn patients of new dangers." Essentially, the problematic situation is that you have state statutes to enforce federal regulations. "We find impossibility here," Thomas said. He's not the only one.