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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

11-PLIVA on Mar 30, 2011

Decided Jun 23, 2011
Case Ruling: PLIVA v. MENSING
Plaintiffs were prescribed a brand name drug for which pharmacists substituted a generic drug, which the FDA had approved under the process federal law authorized for generics. Plaintiffs were diagnosed with a disorder linked to the extended use of the drug. They filed state tort law claims against the manufacturers of the generics, alleging failures to label their products with a warning of known risks. The generics carried the same warnings as the brand name and, the manufacturers argued, since federal regulations required the generics to have the same warnings as the brand name, compliance with a state law requiring different warnings was impossible.

HELD: Delivered by Thomas; joined by Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy & Alito

Generic manufacturers were forbidden to change unilaterally the label warning of the drug. Plaintiffs argued that the manufacturers could have complied with both state and federal law by following the process federal regulations set out of proposing stronger warnings to the FDA (which they did not), after which the FDA might have decided to negotiate a label change with the brand name manufacturer that the generic manufacturers would have been required to adopt. The Court found that
  1. state law required a stronger warning
  2. federal law prohibited a stronger warning, and
  3. requesting the FDA to authorize a stronger warning
was not enough to comply with state law requiring a stronger warning. Federal and state laws conflict when it is impossible to do what both laws require. It was impossible for the generic manufacturers to comply with both laws. Since federal law preempts conflicting state law, the manufacturers may not be sued on these state law claims.

DISSENT: Sotomayor dissents; joined by Ginsburg, Breyer & Kagan

Congress could not have intended the result that brand name drug consumers may sue manufacturers for failure to warn, while the much larger class of generic drug consumers may not.


    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 5. Question 5: Expand ObamaCare Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Health Care
  • Headline: Federal law pre-empts state laws on generic drug warning (Score: -2)
  • Headline 2: Congress did not intend disparate result on generic drugs (Score: 2)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 3.
  • Headline: Federal law pre-empts state laws on generic drug warning (Answer: C)
  • Headline 2: Congress did not intend disparate result on generic drugs (Answer: B)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 3 on Healthcare: When you think about healthcare reform in the United States, which of the following solutions is closest to your opinion?
    • A: The Government should be the sole provider of healthcare insurance
    • B: The Government should have a major role in providing healthcare insurance
    • C: The Government should have a limited role in providing healthcare insurance
    • D: Only private companies should provide healthcare insurance
    • E: Unsure


  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.



Democrats participating in 11-PLIVA

Stephen Breyer j2cUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j2cUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Elena Kagan j2cUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sonia Sotomayor w2cUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 



Republicans participating in 11-PLIVA

Samuel Alito j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
John Roberts j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Clarence Thomas w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 



Independents participating in 11-PLIVA



Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 4
Republicans: 5
Independents: 0


















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