Thursday, September 8, 2022

Federal Court Addresses Potiential Liability of Drug Manufacturer in Products Liability Case

In the case of DiCair v. Gilead Sci., Inc., No. 21-CV-5486 (E.D. Pa. July 12, 2022 Schiller, J.), the court ruled that negligent failure-to-warn and strict liability product claims against a pharmaceutical manufacturer were barred as a matter of Pennsylvania law.  As such, a Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss was granted in part and denied in part.

According to the Opinion, the Defendant designed and manufactured a prescription medication sold under the trade name of Harvoni which was used to treat Hepatitis C. 

The Plaintiff’s decedent was prescribed the medication and, after taking the medication, was diagnosed with a form of liver cancer. The Plaintiff’s decedent passed away thereafter.

The Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging a failure to warn and design and manufacturing defect claims under both negligence and strict liability. The Plaintiffs claimed that the decedent’s development of cancer was caused by his use of the medication.

The court dismissed the negligent failure-to-warn claim, noting that it was well-settled Pennsylvania law that pharmaceutical companies do not owe a duty to warn the public. Rather, manufacturers of medications are only required to warn prescribing doctors of the risk of the medications.  The court cited to the learned intermediary doctrine which holds that drug manufacturers are only required to direct required drug safety warnings to physicians who, in turn, are required to relay the same to patients.

However, the court declined to dismiss the Plaintiff’s negligent design and manufacturing defect theories, finding that the Plaintiff had asserted a valid cause of action that the Defendants had allegedly negligently designed and manufactured the medication.

Lastly, the court did dismiss the Plaintiff’s strict liability claims after holding that strict liability claims against prescription drug manufacturers were barred by Pennsylvania products liability law.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 12, 2022).

Source of image:  Photo by Anna Shvets on

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