The Alabama Supreme Court recently decided that a brand name drug maker can be held liable for warnings on a generic medication even if it was produced by another company.

Plaintiffs Danny and Vick Weeks filed a federal lawsuit against five current and former drug makers for injuries allegedly suffered from the long-term use of the prescription drug metoclopramide, which is the generic form of the brand name drug Reglan. The drug is typically used to treat heartburn and nausea. By the time Mr. Weeks had used the medication, drug maker Wyeth no longer controlled the brand name product, which it sold in 2001.

The couple claimed warning labels on the generic medication failed to adequately describe possible hazards, including the potential for involuntary muscle movements, which should have been disclosed to Weeks’ physician. A federal judge hearing the case asked the Alabama Supreme Court to clarify state law on the question of whether the brand name manufacturers could be held responsible for fraud or misrepresentation.

In a 145 page opinion written by Associate Justice Michael Bolin, the Alabama high court said the maker of a brand name drug can be liable for warnings on a generic medication where the maker of the generic drug copied warnings first issued by the brand name manufacturer, a practice permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Alabama court’s recent decision is in the minority, as courts around the country have consistently refused to find brand name liability for generically produced drugs under state law. Plaintiffs’ attorneys across the country are hopeful that this decision will help serve as guidance for other courts that will be asked to decide this issue.

The litigation against manufacturers of pelvic mesh devices continues to increase nationwide. A pelvic mesh implant is a synthetic material implanted and tied to ligaments or bone to lift and support internal organs. The implants were introduced over a decade ago, and can serve as an alternative to a hysterectomy. Thousands of women, who were allegedly uninformed about the dangers involved with the mesh implants, have since complained of injuries, including severe pain, infections and bleeding that often require follow-up surgeries.

As we have previously reported, C.R. Bard, manufacturer of the Avaulta pelvic mesh device, was believed to know of the risks associated with its device before it hit the market. There are approximately 12,500 lawsuits pending against C.R. Bard for the Avaulta device. The majority of these cases are consolidated as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia.

C.R. Bard has agreed to settle 500 of the pending cases for an undisclosed amount. The manufacturer has reported that it will continue to engage in settlement discussion with the remaining plaintiffs.

If you or a loved one has experienced any injury from the use of a vaginal mesh implant, please contact Stark & Stark and speak to one of the Mass Tort attorneys, free of charge, who can help assess any claims that you might have against a manufacturer of the vaginal mesh device.

Stark & Stark Shareholders Martin P. Schrama and Stefanie Colella-Walsh, members of the firm’s Mass Torts group, have co-authored the chapter “Mass Torts and Class Actions in New Jersey” in the eighth edition of the New Jersey Environmental Law Handbook. This publication breaks down environmental law in a way that is not only informative, but also easy to understand.

This particular chapter seeks to provide a better understanding of the complex litigation models used to resolve tort related environmental law causes of action in the State of New Jersey—the class action and the multicounty litigation (“MCL”). The former is a product of both federal and state law and is often used to resolve diverse disputes across the country. The latter is a New Jersey mechanism devised to efficiently resolve complex tort actions filed in state court.

Buy your copy of the New Jersey Environmental Law Handbook by clicking here.