WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement is being issued by Ralph Pittle, legal director of The Conte Foundation. Today's Supreme Court ruling in Pliva v. Mensing that freed generic makers of the drug Reglan from liability for failing to alert the FDA of new risks places the responsibility back where it belongs with Wyeth, the company that plaintiffs allege in thousands of lawsuits before the courts knowingly misled doctors about its safety when bringing the drug to market, according to an attorney involved in Reglan litigation for the past 22 years.
"While today's ruling will strike the thousands of metoclopramide victims across the country as grossly unfair, it also focuses their cases back on Wyeth," said Ralph Pittle, legal director of The Conte Foundation who was also attorney for Elizabeth Conte in her landmark lawsuit against Wyeth in California. "Previous testimony by experts in Conte* and dozens of other suits allege that the company mounted a campaign that misled doctors into thinking that Reglan was far safer than it is."
The California Supreme Court refused to overturn an appeals court decision in Conte that said a plaintiff could sue the brand-name company for fraud and misrepresentation even if the plaintiff took only generic versions of the drug. Last year, a federal judge in Vermont also ruled** that plaintiffs may sue the brand-name company even though they never took its drug. Pittle was also the attorney in that case.
"Back in the early 1980s, Wyeth's predecessor, the A.H. Robins Company, saw Reglan as a potential blockbuster drug that could solve its financial problems due to Dalkon Shield litigation," Pittle said. "All that was standing in its way was that the FDA had approved only limited use for short duration. As was alleged in Conte and other Reglan cases, Robins then set out to convince doctors that the drug was safe well beyond the limits of the label when it knew – or should have known – that it wasn't."
"This ruling puts the responsibility back in the lap of brand name manufacturers," said Michelle Schwartz, a metoclopramide victim who is also a spokesperson for the Reglan Metoclopramide Victims Organization. "They've dragged their corporate heels for years on doing the right thing by taking what they knew about the illegal activities of the A.H. Robins Company to the FDA. After a 10-year battle, our attorney only in the last month got the company to permit him to give key documents to the FDA that would show what they knew and when they knew it."
The Reglan Metoclopramide Victims Organization was formed last month by Julie Demahy and her attorney Brian Glorioso in hopes of helping the estimated 10,000 people with lawsuits pending against the manufacturers of metoclopramide and Reglan. Its creation was funded with a grant from The Conte Foundation / Victims Seeking Corporate Responsibility.
"People injured as a result of irresponsible conduct by corporations want the law to work effectively to promote safer products and safer practices," said Glorioso. The Reglan Metoclopramide Victims Organization will empower all victims of corporate misconduct to join in making a difference to prevent similar injuries in the future.
The Conte Foundation was launched last year after Conte dedicated 100% of her settlement to create a foundation that would keep these kinds of unnecessary injuries from happening to other people.
* Conte v. Wyeth, 2008 WL 4823066 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. Nov. 7, 2008)
** Kellogg v. Wyeth, U.S. District Court, Vermont, Case No. 2:07-cv-82
CONTACT: To interview Pittle, Glorioso or Schwartz, or victims in your market, please call Wiley Brooks at (206) 963-2230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Conte Foundation