Firm Secures Important Decision Rejecting Innovator Liability In Case Against Pharmaceutical Company

May 14, 2018

On May 11, 2018, the Firm secured an important win in West Virginia’s highest court for a Fortune 50 pharmaceutical company on the subject of “innovator liability.”  One commentator has already deemed the decision a “blockbuster” of “major” importance to the pharmaceutical industry.

The plaintiffs in the case asked the court to find our client, an innovator pharmaceutical company, liable for the injuries allegedly caused by a generic version of one of its medicines. This case is part of a growing trend of the plaintiff’s bar asking the courts to allow consumers of generic drugs to sue the name-brand (i.e., innovator) manufacturer whose medicine the generic manufacturer copied, even though the name-brand manufacturer didn’t make, sell, or profit from the drug the plaintiff took. 

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held, without qualification, that “[t]here is no cause of action in West Virginia … against a brand-name drug manufacturer when the drug ingested was produced by a generic drug manufacturer.”  Quoting the Firm’s brief, the Court explained that “[f]inding the brand manufacturer liable for the ingestion of a generic drug ‘would sever the connection between risk and reward’ … that forms the basis of products liability law.”  It also agreed with the Firm’s arguments that the increased costs that name-brand manufacturers would bear as a result of such liability may “[raise] the price of new drugs to the disadvantage of consumers” and “stifle the development of new drugs, which would have negative health consequences for society.” 

To read the decision, click here.

To read coverage of the West Virginia Supreme Court decision, click here.