On November 14, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing called "Medical Devices: Protecting Patients and Promoting Innovation." The hearing focused on the continued viability of a medical device clearance process that clears for market medical devices that are "substantially equivalent" devices to previously cleared devices (also known as the "510(k) process," in reference to the statutory provision governing this process). Class III medical devices not cleared through this process must undergo the more rigorous and time-consuming Premarket Approval process. Among the issues considered were whether the 510(k) process sufficiently evaluated the safety of devices when clinical data is not necessarily always considered or part of the submission; whether high-risk medical devices should always be considered for the 510(k) process; the user fees for medical device applications; strengthening post-approval monitoring requirements; and the resources and needs for the FDA and the Center of Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) in reviewing, clearing and approving medical devices.… Continue Reading
One of the strongest defenses against product liability claims, including a failure to warn claim, is federal preemption. For cases against prescription drug manufacturers, defense lawyers have specifically asserted conflict preemption to argue that failure to warn claims are preempted by the FDA’s regulations governing the content of labels for prescription drugs. Essentially, defense lawyers … Continue Reading
As every product liability lawyer knows, a client's voluntary recall of a product will result in lawsuits. Plaintiffs' lawyers for pharmaceutical product liability cases love using the fact of a recall as an easy stand-in for proving that the product in a specific case was in fact defective at the time of manufacture. So while equating a voluntary recall with the existence of a defect is a seductively persuasive assumption, defense lawyers should strenuously argue against it because it's an argument they can win.… Continue Reading
On Tuesday, August 4, 2009, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions met for a hearing called "Protecting Patients from Defective Medical Devices" regarding Senate Bill 540, a companion bill to the House bill, H.R. 1346, the "Medical Device Safety Act of 2009." The House Subcommittee on Health, of the Committee on Energy and Commerce also met earlier this year on this issue, with some of the same speakers.… Continue Reading
Since last year, a number of courts have interpreted and applied the express preemption holdings of Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 128 S.Ct. 999 (2008). Miller v. DePuy Spine, Inc., 07-cv-01639, 2009 US Dist LEXIS 49602 (D. Nev. May 1, 2009), is another example and, although it was decided on May 1, has just recently been picked up by LEXIS.
In Miller, the Nevada District Court granted summary judgment for the manufacturer of a PMA approved spinal implant disc called the Charite Artificial Disc. While many courts, including this one, correctly follow Riegel and hold that the state law claims challenging the design, manufacture and labeling claims are expressly preempted, this court also entered judgment for the defendant on warranty and misrepresentation claims that have a received a more mixed reception in some courts...… Continue Reading
Washington Legal Foundation’s latest Legal Backgrounder, the "Logic of Michigan’s ‘FDA Defense’ Survives Recent Supreme Court Ruling", authored by Thomas J. Foley, explains why the Wyeth v. Levine, 129 S.Ct. 1187 (2009) ruling does not support a rationale to overturn Michigan law that provides a defense against drug product liability suits where the manufacturer obtained … Continue Reading
On May 12, 2009 the Subcommittee on Health, of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, held a hearing on H.R. 1346, the "Medical Device Safety Act of 2009". If passed, it would overturn the Supreme Court decision, Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 128 S.Ct. 999 (2008), which held that under the express preemption clause of the Medical Devices Amendment of 1976 (MDA), the federal requirements created by the premarket approval process for Class III devices preempted state law tort claims that added or differed from the federal requirements. This hearing comes at the heels of public and media scrutiny of this decision, including last year's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform preemption hearing held May 14, 2008 and the Senate Judiciary Committee's preemption hearing held June 11, 2008.
Before the invited panel of witnesses spoke, numerous members of the subcommittee provided opening remarks, which reflected the division among those who argued that the Supreme Court's analysis in Riegel departed from the legislative intent of the MDA, and those who agreed that the pending legislation would prevent innovation and access to medical devices that are life-saving. Arguments against the bill also noted that moving against preemption would otherwise place safety concerns in the hands of juries across the country, instead of on the FDA's safety and efficacy evaluations. Some focus was also placed on the FDA's effectiveness in policing the manufacturers, with several congress members such as Representative John Dingle, MI and Henry Waxman, CA arguing that the FDA has not been able to identify and take action on defective products, therefore calling into question their effectiveness in ensuring safety, while other congress members such as Representatives Steve Buyer, IN and Michael Burgess, TX argued that if the FDA is underfunded and without resources, the Committee should focus on the FDA, not on tort reform...… Continue Reading
In a recent law journal article authored about FDA approved labels and off-label uses, authors Mark Herrmann (of the http://druganddevicelaw.blogspot.com) and Pearson Bownas demonstrate the folly of letting the standard of care in medical malpractice cases be defined by whether the doctor used a prescription product "on label" or "off label." The article succinctly explains how off-label use is a prevalent and necessary part of the practice of medicine, and that off label use is not and cannot be legally regulated by the FDA. Off label treatments are undeniably common, whether because manufacturers face prohibitive costs to obtain approval for certain uses when those uses are already accepted in the medical community, or because doctors are ethically obliged to provide the best treatment possible for their patients regardless of the indications for use approved by the FDA . Further, the authors point out that in many instances off-label use may be the standard of care for providing the "safest, most effective, state-of-the-art treatment." Thus, in light of the accepted and prevalent practice of off-label use, the authors point out that allowing FDA approved drug and device labels as "some evidence" of the standard of medical care should be outweighed by the significant risk of prejudice, confusion and time wasting that admission of evidence about the label indications for use would cause. Of relevance to the Life Sciences and Health Industry, the article provides a good overview of the reasons and authorities existing to mitigate the force of a product's label in failure-to-warn off-label use cases.… Continue Reading
The gap that the Supreme Court’s non-precedential decision, Warner-Lambert Co., LLC v. Kent, 128 S.Ct. 1168 (2008), left open earlier this year continues to force the lower courts to take sides, as was done in the latest case – Grange v. Mylan Labs., Inc., Case No. 1:07-CV-107 (N.D. Utah Oct. 31, 2008). Specifically, the controversy remains … Continue Reading
In its November 2008 issue, the Harvard Law Review will publish "Preemption of State Common Law Claims," 122 Harv. L. Rev. 405, an article that discusses Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 128 S.Ct 999 (2008) and its impact on state law claims. Of note, the authors state: "Despite criticisms that it leaves tort victims uncompensated, preemption is … Continue Reading
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.… Continue Reading
In Parker v. Stryker Corp., 2008 WL 4457864 (D. Colo. Oct. 1, 2008), the District of Colorado addressed Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 999 (2008), and the applicability of the express preemption clause of the Medical Device Amendments in a case where the manufacturer sought a discovery stay pending resolution of its motion … Continue Reading
The California Court of Appeal reversed a lower court’s holding for a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor, and held that implied preemption principles did not preempt the state law claims challenging the labeling for a generic drug. In McKenney v. Purepac Pharms. Co., — Cal. Rptr. — , 2008 WL 4355425 (Cal. App. Sept. 25, … Continue Reading
Earlier this week, in Uhm v. Humana, Inc., --- F.3d --- , 2008 WL 3891592, No. 06-35672 (9th Cir. Aug. 25, 2008), the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that the express preemption provision of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act preempted state law claims arising from the plaintiffs' prescription drug benefits provided by a Medicare supplement insurer.… Continue Reading
This post was also written by Michael K. Brown. In This Issue… U.S. Supreme Court Activity in Medical Device and Drug Preemption Cases Express Preemption in the Lower Courts Preemption and Buckman Implied Preemption in the Lower Courts Recent Legislation Miscellaneous Cases Click here to read more.… Continue Reading