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Generic drug companies shielded from liability; state statute limiting private information sharing is struck down

This week the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled that generic drug manufacturers cannot be sued for failing to provide patients with adequate warnings and instructions.  The ruling created the absurd circumstance that name-brand manufacturers are exposed to liability for inadequate warnings and instructions, but generic manufacturers are not.  The Court majority based its decision on federal regulations requiring generic manufacturers to adopt  FDA-approved package inserts.  The lead opinion was authored by Justice Clarence Thomas who acknowledged that it "makes little sense."

In the same term, the Court struck down a Vermont statute that prohibited the sale of pharmacy records and their use for marketing purposes.  The statute was intended to stop the practice of selling drug prescription information for unrelated marketing purposes and to reduce drug-marketing pressure on doctors.  The Court's conservative Justices held that it constituted a violation of First Amendment "free speech" guarantees.  Critics noted that in past years, this type of "speech" was deemed commercial speech and subject to greater restriction than political speech.  Obviously, the current court considers political and commercial speech to be one and the same thing--having tossed out limitations on campaign contributions and financing.  For this court majority, the right to "buy votes" is not only not illegal--it is constitutionally protected.  No surprise that it would also protect large corporations' right to buy your pharmacy records.

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