Who’s Responsible?

The company who made and sold the product, or the company that bought the product from a third party which actually did the development?

That’s a somewhat convoluted statement of the question, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s what confused the Alabama Supreme Court.

This body of judges has decided that brand-name drug makers can be held liable for injuries caused by the generic versions of their products.  The particular case has a plaintiff buying a generic drug—a copy of a patented drug—developed and originally manufactured by Wyeth.  Pfizer Inc later acquired Wyeth, and Schwarz Pharma Inc also acquired rights to the drug.  The plaintiff sued, among others, Pfizer and Schwarz Pharma, and the Alabama Supremes let the suit against these two go forward.

Imagine that.  They didn’t make the product, but they’re responsible for anything that goes wrong.

As Pfizer notes,

Alabama’s decision would allow generic-drug makers “to reap the profits of drug sales while leaving brand manufacturers with the liability” and violate the basic legal tenet that a manufacturer is liable only for its products[.]

Chris Hood, plaintiff’s lawyer said, without a particle of irony,

The Alabama Supreme Court is the first and only supreme court of any state to adopt the theory of liability we advocate.  It correctly identified and applied basic tort principles overlooked by numerous lower courts which rejected similar theories.

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