Decision allows Warner-Lambert suit to continue

With the Supreme Court handing down a split decision in the case, a suit against Rezulin maker Warner-Lambert will be allowed to move ahead, despite the drugmaker's contention that the dispute shouldn't be allowed to proceed under state jurisdiction. In the case, the court was asked to decide whether Michigan plaintiffs could argue that drugmakers defrauded the FDA in how they got the diabetes drug through the FDA approvals process. The question at hand was whether federal law prevented the matter from being heard in state court. The case climbed all the way up to the Supreme Court. Because Chief Justice John Roberts recused himself from the case--reportedly because he owns stock in Warner-Lambert--only eight justices voted, and were split 4 to 4 on whether the case should be allowed in state court. Because there was no binding decision, the case bounces back to state court for the time being.

In the future, however, the Supremes will hear a case, involving Wyeth, which could address the broad questions of whether federal law pre-empts state action in drug liability cases. The high court already has ruled that federal law does pre-empt state action in medical-device cases.

To learn more about the suit:
 - read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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