Pfizer demands rehearing in generic Reglan case

Pfizer ($PFE) asked the Alabama Supreme Court to think twice before allowing generics patients to sue branded drugmakers. The company filed for a rehearing yesterday, after the state's top court determined Pfizer could be sued by a patient who had only used generic versions of its stomach drug Reglan.

Pfizer and its Wyeth unit contend that the previous ruling contradicts other rulings in similar cases all over the country. "The court should grant rehearing and hold, consistent with the national consensus and existing Alabama tort law, that a brand-name drug manufacturer cannot be held liable for injuries caused by its competitors' generic drug products," the petition states.

A slew of business groups filed briefs in support of Pfizer's position, including the drug-company association PhRMA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama, reports. The ruling could have plenty of unwanted and unintended consequences, they said. "The only thing predictable about this court's opinion is that it will lead to more lawsuits, and this necessarily leads to less investment, less innovation, and fewer new jobs in Alabama," the chamber stated in its brief.

Originally, the Alabama Supreme Court was asked whether state law allows a brand-name manufacturer to be held liable for fraud or misrepresentation, even if a plaintiff only used a generic version of the company's drug. The high court ruled that the branded company could be sued, because generic drug labels are by law identical to those that accompany the branded version. Therefore, it's the branded company that may have failed to adequately warn patients, the court held.

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