In Carter v. Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., — F. Supp. 2d — , No. EDCV08-0334 MRP (JCRx) (C.D. Cal. Aug. 5, 2008) and its companion cases, the Central District of California addressed the express preemption clause of Section 379r of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act governing OTC drugs. Here, the parents of children younger than age 6 filed a complaint against manufacturers alleging that the OTC cough and cold medicines "d[id] not work" and were dangerous to their children. There were no requests for damages based on injuries, but rather for the economic harm of purchasing these products. Plaintiffs also sought injunctive relief, pursuant to various state consumer fraud statutes, and each case sought to certify a class on behalf of all others similarly situated.
The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss based on federal preemption for all of the claims (unjust enrichment, false and misleading advertising, fraudulent concealment, unfair and deceptive business practices, and breach of express and implied warranties), noting that OTC cough and cold medicines are regulated by the FDA pursuant to the OTC monograph, generally described within 21 CFR part 341. Such OTC monographs set forth approved indications for use and age-dependent dosage instructions that must comply with all FDA regulations, and are therefore generally recognized as safe and effective. Claims attacking these federal "requirements" therefore preempted the state "requirements" established by the state law claims. Of particular note was the court’s understanding that the state requirements were not defined by its label, but "its ultimate outcome: would a finding of liability impose requirements that are different from or in addition to FDA requirements?" p. 13. Because the claims were premised on attacks based upon FDA-approved statements in product labeling and advertising, such claims were preempted.