Requirements in Florida Prescription Drug Products Liability Cases

Advances in the medical field have provided our society with innovative drugs and treatments to treat a wide variety of illnesses. However, some of the side effects of prescription drugs may actually be more harmful than the condition that was initially being treated. Bringing a products liability case, while complex, can help you recover necessary damages for your injuries.

A Federal Court held that a products liability case against prescription drug suppliers could go on, particularly in the early stages of litigation and discovery. In Small v. Amgen, Inc., et al., the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida considered arguments in a products liability case concerning the prescription drug Enbrel.

The plaintiffs in the case are a husband and his wife, who had been treated with Enbrel for a number of years in order to cure her rheumatoid arthritis. The evidence presented showed that the wife had been treated with the drug for approximately six years when she suddenly became ill. Medical professionals concluded that her condition was a result of her use of the prescription medication. She resumed treatment with Enbrel several months later, only to experience more health complications.

The plaintiffs brought suit against the drug manufacturer, as well as two suppliers, alleging that the prescription did not contain warnings covering the type of serious infection experienced in this case. The plaintiffs also alleged that the drug was defective in design, among other claims. When the defendants asked the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims, the U.S. District Court applied Florida products liability law to allow the plaintiffs’ suit to survive.

First, in order to state a claim for strict products liability in Florida, a plaintiff need only allege that a manufacturer has a relationship to the particular drug, the drug is unreasonably dangerous, and usage of the drug caused injuries to the user. Since it is difficult for an average consumer to identify a drug’s specific defect, it is enough to provide evidence of the type of injury that the prescription drug allegedly caused. Especially since the case was in the early stages of litigation, the plaintiffs’ claims were allowed to go on.

The Federal Court also analyzed Florida law with regard to prescription drug warnings. Generally, drug manufacturers and suppliers only have a duty to warn physicians of a drug’s potentially dangerous side effects. The plaintiffs in Small argued that the warning contained on the drug’s packaging was insufficient because it did not warn of serious infections. Again, the court allowed the case to continue, for the type of asymptomatic infection suffered by the plaintiff was not included in the drug’s warnings.

The plaintiffs also claimed that the packaging of the drug and other marketing materials expressly warranted that it was of merchantable quality, fit, and safe. According to the plaintiffs, these warranties materially contributed to the decision to use the prescription drug. The plaintiffs asserted that the drug did not conform to the warranties and in fact caused medical injuries. These allegations were sufficient to state a claim of breach of express warranty, the court held.

If you or someone you love has suffered complications from taking a prescription drug, you may have a claim. The Southwest Florida injury attorneys at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano are experienced in filing and litigating products liability cases relating to prescription drugs for residents living in and around Fort Myers, Naples, and Cape Coral. Our skilled attorneys are familiar with the types of arguments that prescription drug suppliers make in an attempt to get claims thrown out of court, and we can use our resources to get you a favorable outcome in your case. Contact us or call toll-free at (800) 238-7442 for a free initial consultation.

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