Court rules that Merck can be sued over generic drug injuries

Mar 19, 2018

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has opened the door to patients to sue brand-name companies for injuries caused by generic drugs.

Typically, generic drugmakers cannot be sued for side effects not warned about on the drug’s label because federal laws require them to use the labels produced by the brand-name companies.

As a result, a man who claims he suffered unwanted side effects such as sexual dysfunction for the generic version of a Merck drug for an enlarged prostate, has targeted Merck in a lawsuit.

Initially, the case claiming that Merck was negligent in its labeling of the drug was tossed out by a lower court. But the top court in Massachusetts decided that Merck can be sued for recklessness — a claim that requires a higher standard of proof of intentional wrongdoing.

In the decision, the court’s chief justice said that if brand-name manufacturers are overly protected from lawsuits, there will be less accountability in the market for generic drugs, which comprise about 90 percent of the pharmaceutical market.

Read the full report in Reuters.