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Court Takes Drug Lawsuit

January 18, 2008
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The Associated Press reported recently that a drug manufacturer won Supreme Court review of a $6.8 million verdict in the case of a woman whose arm had to be amputated after she was injected with one of its medications.

A jury in Vermont awarded the money to Diana Levine, who sued Wyeth after she was injected with its Phenergan nausea medication. The drug was inadvertently injected into an artery, which was seriously damaged. Doctors later amputated her arm.

Wyeth contends it should not have been subjected to the lawsuit because the company had the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the warning label that accompanied the drug.

In upholding that verdict, the Vermont Supreme Court said state regulators could require sterner warnings than their federal counterparts about a drug''s potential side effects. Federal labeling requirements "create a floor, not a ceiling" for state regulation, the state court said.

Wyeth has said the company recommended a label change to the FDA, but the agency told it to keep the existing language.

The court separately is considering two other cases in which companies say federal laws pre-empt lawsuits.
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