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Generic Drug Side Effect Victims Have No Legal Recourse

Filed March 22nd, 2012 Laurie

Dozens of lawsuits filed against generic pharmaceutical companies across the country are being dismissed in the wake of a decision handed down by the Supreme Court last year that said drug companies didn’t have control over what their labels said, therefore preventing consumers from suing them for failing to alert the public about the risks of taking their drugs. Whether or not to take a generic drug versus a brand name drug now plays a major role in whether or not a patient can seek legal recourse from a drug company.

The legal community says that most consumers don’t realize that when they start taking a generic drug, they are essentially giving up their legal recourse, should something go wrong as a result of taking that drug.

“Your pharmacists aren’t telling you, hey, when we fill this with your generic, you are giving up all of your legal remedies,” said a lawyer who represented a patient who sued generic drug companies in last year’s Supreme Court case, Pliva v. Mensing. “You have a disparate impact between one class of people and another.”

The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has petitioned the FDA to make a rule change that could allow users of generic drugs to sue, but the agency said earlier this month that it needed more time to arrive at a conclusion.

If a problem arises, the brand-name companies are responsible for changing the label, and the generic companies must follow their lead, which is why the Supreme Court ultimately ruled they could not be held responsible for alerting patients to problems with their drugs.

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