March 29, 2007
Learned Intermediary Doctrine Provides Basis for Summary Judgment in Two Cases
In Cowley v. Abbott Laboratories, 2007 WL 663656 (W.D. Wisc.), the plaintiff claimed that his neurological disorder was caused by taking the prescription drug Humira, manufactured by Abbott, and that Abbott had failed to warn adequately about certain neurological side-effects such as those suffered by the plaintiff. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that under North Carolina's learned intermediary doctrine (found in a N. C. statute), it had no duty to warn the plaintiff directly and that it had discharged its duty to warn by adequately warning plaintiff's prescribing physician (the learned intermediary) of these possible side-effects. Plaintiff did not dispute the adequacy of the warnings given to the plaintiff's physician and the court accordingly granted summary judgment for the defendant.
An interesting twist to this case, filed in state court in Wisconsin and removed to the federal district court there by the defendant, is the application of North Carolina law. The federal district court, applying Wisconsin choice-of-law rules determined that North Carolina law should apply since the plaintiff was living in North Carolina at the time he had been diagnosed and had taken the drugs which were prescribed by a North Carolina physician.
In Madsen v. American Home Products, 2007 WL 738627 (E. D. Mo.), the plaintiff had developed a heart valve disorder allegedly caused by her use of the "fenphen" diet drugs. She claimed that the drugs' manufacturer had failed to warn of the risk of valvular heart disease. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the learned intermediary doctrine applied and that health care providers were adequately warned of the diet drugs' potential adverse side effects. The federal district court in Missouri determined that Iowa law applied and that Iowa would apply the learned intermediary doctrine in these circumstances. The court concluded that plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence to show that defendant had failed to adequately warn the medical community of this risk at the time the drugs were prescribed for and used by the plaintiff. However, the court also determined that the plaintiff's physician would have prescribed these drugs even if the defendant had provided timely adeqaute warnings, that plaintiff had provided no evidence to the contrary, and that therefore the alleged failure to warn was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury.
March 29, 2007 | Permalink
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