In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court decided that drug companies’ liability for defective drugs has a larger legal scope than previously stated. The new ruling in Pennsylvania court will allow individuals or groups to sue pharmaceutical companies for “lack of due care” inside the state.
Pharmaceutical companies are upset with the ruling and are speaking out. The change in law could cost firms millions in defending themselves against cases where their drugs are deemed “defective” or “harmful.” The law firm representing the pharmaceutical industry in the case, Ballard Spahr LLP, released a statement saying, in part, “The decision upends years of accepted law in Pennsylvania. While the Supreme Court had not previously addressed the precise issue of a pharmaceutical company’s alleged lack of care in the design and testing of a marketed drug …This new decision will enable juries to second-guess FDA approval by concluding that an approved medicine is, or at least was, too dangerous to be marketed in the first place. If it stands, this case will alter the terrain of pharmaceutical litigation in Pennsylvania.”
Even with the unfavorable ruling, there seems to be a silver lining for drug companies. The court ruled that, while any drug was still approved by the FDA and regularly prescribed by doctors, it would be extremely difficult to prove that the drug companies had been negligent in their production. However, if companies are forced to withdraw a drug from the market and it remains in public use, negligence lawsuits might have more merit.