Recently, a federal appellate court in another part of the country, perhaps to the disappointment of many victims of dangerous drugs, set aside a $3 million verdict that a jury had awarded to the widow of a successful attorney who killed himself.
The man was on the generic equivalent of Paxil, a common anti-depressant. The woman had alleged that the manufacturer of Paxil had not provided an adequate warning label since the warning did not include mention of the possibility of middle-aged adults being more prone to suicidal thoughts while on this medication.
The woman deliberately avoided suing the manufacturer of the generic drug in light of previous court cases. These court cases held that a generic drug maker is bound to use the warning label of the brand name manufacturer when marketing the generic drug. Therefore, a generic manufacturer cannot be held liable for a defective warning label so long as it correctly copied the label of the brand name drug.
The woman instead sued the maker Paxil itself since it could, in theory, do something about its warning label. In this case, however, Paxil was able to defend itself by pointing out that it had tried to amend its label in a way that may have helped the widow's husband but that the Food and Drug Administration would not have allowed the amendment.
Because medical product liability and dangerous drug cases often span several jurisdictions, what happens in a separate federal court can still impact the outcome of medical product liability cases in Georgia. Concerned people should watch this case closely, particularly since it seems some other courts have reached different conclusions that are more favorable to plaintiffs.
In any event, this case serves as a useful reminder that drug manufacturers have a duty to warn of possible side effects, and their not doing so can mean that a victim is entitled to compensation.