Coalition asks U.S. Supreme Court to uphold states' rights to sue pharmaceutical manufacturers

By Marian Johns | Dec 3, 2018

CHICAGO —  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is the latest state legal officer to join a  23-state coalition filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Albrecht  and arguing to uphold a states' rights to sue pharmaceutical manufacturers for deceiving consumers. 

In the recently filed brief, the attorneys general asserted that states should be allowed to take legal action against Merck under state laws for allegedly misleading consumers over its drug osteoarthritis drug Fosamax which allegedly has caused a certain type of bone fracture in patients. 

“People have a right to know about the side effects associated with medications they are taking, and states must have the right to hold accountable companies that mislead or misrepresent their products,” Madigan said in a statement. 

According to the Attorney General's Office, Merck argues that the company is not liable in the hundreds of personal injury lawsuits it faces from patient injuries because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) did not approve "a warning label for a different type of fracture."

In its brief, the coalition says Merck's rationale would "break precedent in the balance between state and federal regulations" relating to protecting consumers, Madigan's office said. 

The coalition also includes California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state.

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