KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court Sides With Drug Makers In Two Decisions

One would shield pharmaceutical companies from most lawsuits filed by people injured by taking generic drugs. The other strikes down a Vermont law that banned some commercial uses - "data mining" - of prescription data.

The New York Times: Drug Makers Win Two Supreme Court Decisions
The Supreme Court on Thursday handed drug companies two significant victories, one limiting suits from people injured by generic drugs and the other striking down a law that banned some commercial uses of prescription data (Liptak, 6/23).

Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Sides With Pharmaceutical Industry In Two Decisions
The Supreme Court gave the pharmaceutical industry a pair of victories, shielding the makers of generic drugs from most lawsuits by injured patients and declaring that drug makers have a free-speech right to buy private prescription records to boost their sales pitches to doctors. In both decisions Thursday, the court's conservative bloc formed the majority, and most of its liberals dissented (Savage, 6/24).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Protects Generic-Drug Makers From Being Sued For Lack Of Warning
Makers of generic drugs cannot be sued for not warning patients of the drugs' dangerous side effects, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, even though brand-name manufacturers can be found liable (Barnes, 6/23).

The Hill: Supreme Court Blocks Suits On Generic-Drug Warning Labels
Federal law requires generic drugs to maintain the same labeling as the brand-name products they reproduce, including warnings of potential side effects. In a 5-4 decision, the court said patients therefore can't sue the maker of a generic drug over the fact that a particular warning wasn't on its label. Allowing those suits to proceed would require the drug companies to violate federal law, the majority said (Baker, 6/23).

CNN: High Court Sides With Generic Drug Makers In Narrow Ruling
Two women who say they suffered severe medical complications from a generic drug lost their Supreme Court appeal Thursday, essentially ending their separate lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers. The justices in a 5-4 ruling said generic drug companies do not share the same level of responsibility as makers of brand-name equivalents, to update their warning labels when significant new risks emerge (Mears, 6/23).

NPR: Supreme Court Hands Drug Companies Twin Wins
Writing for the six-member court majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Vermont law, both on its face and in its operation, imposes a burden based on the content of the speech and identity of the speaker. He dismissed the state's justifications - that the law was aimed at keeping medical costs down and protecting medical privacy, physician confidentiality and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. If doctors don't want to get visits from drug company salesmen, said Kennedy, they can just say no (Totenberg, 6/23).

The Associated Press: Prescription Drug Data Mining Law Struck Down
States cannot stop drug manufacturers and data-mining companies from using information about the prescription drugs individual doctors like to prescribe, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The court voted 6-3 to strike down a Vermont data-mining law aimed at controlling health care costs by boosting the use of generic drugs. The ruling imperils similar laws in Maine and New Hampshire that seek to control the flow of information about brand-name medications (Sherman, 6/23).

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