WV court says drugmakers must warn consumers

A West Virginia high court has ruled pharmas can be held partially liable for harm caused by drugs, despite the fact that physicians with medical expertise prescribe the drugs. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled Janssen Pharmaceutica was partially responsible for the death of patient Nancy Gellner, who died in 1999 after taking the company's Propulsid. Gellner's estate argued that despite her physician's role in prescribing the drug, Janssen should have better warned Gellner about its risks. Janssen argued, for its part, that under a legal doctrine known as "learned intermediary," the physician was completely responsible for any negative results from prescribing the drug. But the appeals court held Janssen (and by extension, other drugmakers) should be doing more to inform consumers about the risks of taking their products.

"When the learned intermediary doctrine was developed, direct to consumer advertising was utterly unknown," wrote Chief Justice Robin Davis. "... For good or ill, that has all changed."

To find out more about this case:
- read this LegalNewsline.com piece
- and this Charleston Gazette report