Dozens of lawsuits against generic drug makers have been dismissed after a 2011 decision by the Supreme Court made it all but impossible to sue the firms for failing to warn of a drug's dangers.
Nearly 80 percent of all prescriptions in the United States are filled with generic drugs.
Attorney Gary Leppla represented the family of a young woman who had an adverse reaction to a drug and died. He said it's critical to know what your health-insurance plan tells your pharmacist to do.
"You have the drug manufacturers (and) insurance companies really dictating medical practice," he said. "Doctors have the opportunity to be aware of the risks of various medications, and yet what is used to fill a prescription is not necessarily dictated by the doctor. It happens after it leaves the doctor's desk."
Proposed federal legislation would require generic drug-makers to update warning labels when a new safety issue arises.
Leppla said to ask your pharmacist if you're getting a generic.
"I think that consumers should be aware of this proposed legislation, which hopefully would level the playing field. When we realize that 'big pharm' and insurance companies drive this train and the consumer has very little to say, it means that consumers need to gain information and to network.
"The threshold question is: Why should I be treated different as a consumer because I was required to have my prescription filled with a generic, as opposed to the original manufactured drug?"
Insurance companies say generic drugs save money and have the same active ingredients as the brand names. As the law stands now, generic manufacturers are not required to update their warning labels, even when they are aware of new safety issues associated with a drug's brand-name equivalent. Name-brand manufacturers are required by the FDA to update their labels.
The Supreme Court decision referred to is Pliva v. Mensing. The legislation is S2295 and HR4384.
- Florida News Connection