When Karen Bartlett took the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Sulindac in 2004 to treat her mild shoulder pain, she never imagined the horrors she was about to endure. Within weeks of using the pain pill her skin began to slough off so aggressively that she lost nearly 2/3 of her skin and had to spend almost two months in a burn unit. In addition, she spent several more months in a medically induced coma. The severe allergic reaction damaged her lungs, her esophagus, and left her legally blind.
She took her horrifying story to court and sued Mutual Pharmaceutical Company, the manufacturer who made the pain pill Sulindac. Her attorneys argued that the drug itself was dangerous and defective and a jury agreed and awarded her $21 million for her injuries, pain, and suffering. An appeals court upheld the verdict.
Now, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments this month to decide whether Mutual can actually be held liable for Linda Bartlett’s injuries and the outcome could have serious repercussions for pharmaceutical companies, federal regulators, and patients across the country. This decision will come nearly two years after the Supreme Court severely limited conditions under which consumers of generic drugs could sue the manufacturers. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that since generic manufacturers did not have control over their warning labels, they could therefore not be sued for their drugs risks. This case, however, is a bit different. Bartlett’s attorneys did not argue that the warnings were inadequate; they argued that the drug itself was manufactured defectively and was dangerous.
Federal law prohibits all generic drug manufacturers from deviating from the brand-name drug they are copying and Sulindac is no exception. They copied a drug similar to ibuprofen which was approved in 1978 and sold by Merck. Mutual is appealing the court’s original decision based on the fact that they did not have any right to change the drug’s design.
This case is of utmost importance to pharmaceutical manufacturers and consumers across the nation for two reasons:
- If the Supreme Court agrees with Mutual and rules that generic drug companies cannot be sued for defective products, then consumers and patients will have little recourse when they are injured by a defective generic drug.
- If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Ms. Bartlett, then individual juries and large trials could lead drug makers to remove valuable medicines from the market.
Like all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Sulindac carried a warning label that patients could develop a rare but serious reaction known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
National Dangerous Drug Lawsuit Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been harmed after taking a dangerous drug, it is important to know that you are not alone; the national dangerous drug lawsuit attorneys at Phillips Law Firm can help. We represent patients across the United States who have been injured or hurt after taking a dangerous drug. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.