Pa. attorney general joins counterparts in supporting proposed legislation involving generic drug warning labels

By Jon Campisi | May 17, 2012

Pennsylvania’s top law enforcer has announced that the commonwealth has joined 40 other state attorneys general in support of federal legislation that would give generic drug makers the same ability to correct label warnings as their brand-name counterparts.

In a May 14 announcement, the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said that it supports U.S. Senate Bill 2295, dubbed the “Patient Safety and Generic Labeling Improvement Act,” which would overturn the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in PLIA Inc. v. Mensing, which determined that state laws requiring generic drug manufacturers to adequately warn consumers of dangerous drug side effects are preempted by federal law, which currently only permits brand-name drug makers to independently change label warnings.

Kelly’s announcement states that she and the other top prosecutors supporting the change in law have said that the “adverse consequences of this decision are magnified by the fact that over 70 percent of U.S. prescriptions are filled with generic drugs.”

Consumers whose prescriptions “happen to be” filled with brand-name versions of pharmaceuticals are protected by state laws from inadequate warnings, but those whose pharmacists fill their prescriptions with the generic equivalents are denied this protection, the announcement reads.

The attorneys general in support of the revised legislation sent off a letter to U.S. Sens. Patrick J. Leahy and Al Franken on May 11 urging the lawmakers to take action, especially in light of the PLIVA high court decision.

“Fortunately, as the Supreme Court made clear in PLIVA, Congress can readily cure this problem by amending federal law,” the letter reads. “Congress should do so, to restore for consumers of generic drugs the same protections that exist for consumers of brand-name drugs.”

In addition to Pennsylvania, the states and territories whose attorney’s general support amending the federal law are as follows:

Louisiana, Minnesota, Vermont, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Washington D.C., Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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