U.S. Supreme Court Hands Down Two Favorable Decisions for the Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry gained a pair of victories when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with them on two important lawsuits. In the first case, the SC voted to shield generic drug makers from lawsuits by injured patients, and in the second case, the SC declared that makers of drugs have a free-speech right to purchase private prescription records to enhance their sales pitches to doctors.
In both rulings, which was handed down Thursday, the conservative bloc of the court formed the majority and the dissenting justices were mostly liberals.
Around 75% of the prescriptions written in America are for the lower-priced, generic versions of brand-name drugs. The makers of brand-name drugs are required by federal law to put FDA-approved warning information on their products and to update such warnings when reports of new issues arise.
However, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court said that this same legal duty to caution patients of newly revealed risks do not extend to manufacturers of copycat generic drugs.
In the second ruling, the high court, by a 6-3 vote nullified a Vermont law that prohibited drug makers, pharmacies and others from purchasing or selling prescription records from patients for commercial or marketing purposes.
Physicians in Vermont had sought for the passage of the law, saying that their prescriptions are intended for their patients’ private use and should not be utilized as a marketing tool.
Drug manufacturers purchase this data to further improve their sales pitches to physicians. A number of data-mining outfits have generated billions of dollars in profits out of buying and selling prescription data to makers and researchers of drugs.