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Recent court holding highlights ongoing issue in drug world

The decision of a federal appellate court made a splash in the headlines recently and, although from another part of the country, may have an ongoing impact among Tampa, Florida, residents who are victims of dangerous drugs.

The case involved the generic equivalent of a major anti-depressant, Paxil, that many family doctors and psychiatrists prescribe their patients.

The federal court hearing the case ultimately decided to set aside a $3 million award which a jury awarded to widow of an attorney who, while on the generic drug, committed suicide. The allegation was that the drug's warnings did not include a statement about the possibilities of the drug's increasing suicide ideations among middle-aged adults.

The case came in the wake of a prior holding by the United States Supreme Court, in which the High Court concluded that generic drug manufacturers were required under the law to use the same warning labels as those used on the brand name. As such, a generic drug manufacturer could not be sued for an insufficient warning label for which it was ultimately not responsible.

This latest case concluded that the manufacturer of the brand name could also not be liable for a so-called defective warning, but for different reasons. In this case, the evidence suggested the drug manufacturer had indeed tried to update their warning but the federal Food and Drug Administration had prevented it.

Other holdings from other jurisdictions suggest that, in the right circumstances, a defective warning claim against a brand name manufacturer but involving a generic drug could succeed. The issue may ultimately have to be resolved by the nation's highest court.

In the interim, those who have been the victim of dangerous prescription drugs, or who feel that the warning labels on these drugs were misleading, may have legal options available to them.

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