PA Supreme Court Rules Pharmas Responsible for Defective Drugs


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for negligent design and marketing of drugs, agreeing with the family of a deceased woman that a drug’s manufacturer “owed a duty . . .  not to introduce onto the market a drug that was unreasonably dangerous for any person to use” and dismissing a summary judgment in favor of Wyeth, the manufacturer of Redux. Wyeth had argued that pharmas are responsible for “impurities or deficient warnings” only, and that the roles of doctors and the FDA relieves the manufacturer of responsibility.

Decision →

Of further note:

Wyeth, in its movement for a summary judgment, had argued that juries “do not have the requisite knowledge, resources, or societal mandate to make the decision as to a prescription drug’s relative worth.”  The Supreme Court answered this assertion, saying “to the degree that Wyeth is uncomfortable with our jury-based civil-justice system, its complaint is with the Pennsylvania Constitution.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I am concerned about the recent study that showed that women who were prescribed SSRIs and became pregnant had a much higher rate of autism in their children…shouldn’t the drug companies have to thoroughly test any medications given to women of childbearing age for these types of problems? I hope the FDA tightens up it’s oversight of meds. I also wonder if a for-profit pharmaceutical and medical system is always going to have a conflict of interest with the provision of optimal and unbiased research and services.

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