Court says no to generic drug design lawsuits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says generic drug manufacturers can’t be sued in state court for a drug’s design defects if federal officials approved the brand-name version the generic drug copied.

The justices voted 5-4 to agree with generic manufacturer Mutual Pharmaceutical Co, Inc., which wanted a $21 million judgment against it dismissed.

A New Hampshire jury gave that to Karen L. Bartlett after she took sulindac, the generic form of the drug Clinoril, in 2004. It caused her outer skin layer to deteriorate and burn off, leaving at least 60 percent of her body as an open wound. She is also now legally blind.

The federal appeals courts upheld her verdict, but the justices said federal law pre-empts the New Hampshire law that allowed Bartlett’s lawsuit.

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