Kentucky court says no to pharmaceutical lawsuit

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 12, 2004

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When pharmaceutical manufacturers tell physicians about their products' possible side effects, patients can't sue drug makers if complications arise, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 opinion in June.

Robert I. Larkin and his wife, Barbara A. Larkin, sued Pfizer Inc. and G.D. Searle & Co. after he suffered from toxic epidermal necrolysis and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. His physician believed either the Daypro or Zithromax, or both, that he prescribed for Larkin caused the problems. Larkin sued the companies, claiming that they didn't warn consumers about potential risks. He did not sue his physician.

The court said the companies warned physicians about the side effects and that Kentucky's informed consent laws "anticipate that doctors will inform their patients of any risks or dangers inherent in proposed treatment." But a patient may be able to sue a manufacturer if it didn't warn physicians about risks.

"Manufacturers still have a duty to warn," the court said. "The rule only identifies the party to be warned, i.e., the health care provider who prescribes the drugs. If the manufacturer fails to adequately warn the prescribing health care provider, the manufacturer is directly liable to the patient for damages resulting from that failure."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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