Header graphic for print
Class Action Blog Tp provide current legal information relating to class action lawsuits, including consumer fraud, consumer protection, securities and antitrust class actions

Generic Versus Brand-Name Drugs

Generic drugs account for almost 80 percent of all prescribed medications in the United States and most states allow generic drugs to be dispensed in place of brand-name drugs.  This is quite a large number of generic drugs being taken by quite a large number of the nation’s population.  The possibility of people who take generic drugs and having reactions to the drugs is also large – unfortunately, this is what is happening across the country.  People, who are taking generic drugs, are having severe complications from taking the drugs.  Reactions to these generic drugs are very serious, with some consumers developing inflammatory bowel disease, gangrene, and even movement disorders. 

What is even more distressing is that the manufacturers of these generic drugs are protected by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.  In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2011 that makers of generic drugs cannot be sued for not including side-effect warnings on their labels, if the warnings are also not on the labels of their brand-name equivalent.  This makes it difficult for consumers who may not know they are receiving a generic form of a drug, such as in a hospital, or may be required by their insurance plan to fill a prescription with a generic drug.  If they develop a medical issue while taking a generic form of a prescription drug, they basically have no legal remedy.

The Supreme Court ruling is based on the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984.  This law allowed companies to skip the involved process required to approve new drugs, if they could prove that the generic drug was equivalent to its brand-name counterpart.  However, Representative Henry A. Waxman, who co-wrote the Act, has stated that “Congress did not intend for consumers’ rights to be categorically eliminated simply because they purchased a generic rather than a brand-name drug.”  Mr. Waxman is investigating a change in the ruling

Consumers should protect themselves and do their own research before taking any drug – check with your doctor about generic versus brand-name prescriptions and find out about all the possible risks and side effects.