The Supreme Court today handed two victories to large drug companies over the citizens who had sought to hold them accountable. In both cases, the Court was divided. In one, PLIVA v. Mensing, the Court ruled that a woman could not sue the manufacturer of a generic drug for failing to provide adequate warning of the drug’s known side effects. In another, Sorrell v. IMS Health, the Court struck down Vermont’s medical privacy law prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from obtaining pharmacies’ prescription data to target doctors for advertising.
Marge Baker of People For the American Way Foundation, issued the following statement:
“Time after time the Roberts Court has twisted the law and the Constitution to privilege the profits of corporations over the rights of individual citizens. Today’s rulings are yet more examples of that troubling trend. Gladys Mensing, the plaintiff in the generic drug case, developed an incurable neurological disorder after years of using a prescription drug whose risks its manufacturers knew about but never warned about on their labels or even asked the FDA to address. The Supreme Court today told her that she has no way to hold the drug manufacturer accountable, and told drug manufacturers that they can keep on placing profits above safety. Even more bizarrely, because of a previous ruling on brand-name drugs that went the other way, a victim’s ability to go to court now depends on whether she happened to use a generic or a brand-name drug.
“Likewise, the Supreme Court has told Vermont’s legislature that it can’t protect the medical privacy of its citizens or properly regulate pharmaceutical marketing tactics when corporate profits are at stake. The dissenters properly warned of a return to the discredited Lochner era, when the Court, with dubious constitutional backing, routinely struck down state regulations
“The American courts should be places where those with no money and influence can stand on equal footing with the biggest corporations and the wealthiest individuals and make themselves heard. The Supreme Court today closed its doors a little more to average Americans seeking to take on corporate malfeasance.”