Beshear Joins Bipartisan Coalition to Protect States’ Ability to Sue Pharmaceutical Companies over Potential Drug Side Effects

Andy Beshear

Attorney General Andy Beshear has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general in asking the nation’s highest court to uphold the ability of states, like Kentucky, to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable when they mislead the public on the potential side effects of their drugs.

Beshear has signed on to an amicus or “friend of the court” brief filed in the United States Supreme Court case Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Albrecht.

The AGs argue that pharmaceutical company Merck can be held liable under state law for misleading and misrepresenting the side effects of its osteoporosis preventive drug Fosamax even if the company is not liable under federal law.

Beshear said he is hopeful the justices will reaffirm the vital role states play in protecting citizens from disingenuous pharmaceutical companies.

Beshear has filed nine opioid-related lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for violating state law and directly contributing to state opioid-related deaths. Kentucky now leads the nation in the number of individual opioid lawsuits filed by an attorney general.

The Supreme Court case Beshear is weighing in on originated after hundreds of Fosamax users, who suffered from a specific type of bone fracture, filed personal injury lawsuits against Merck, alleging the company did not warn them about the risk of these specific fractures.

In the case, Merck claims that because the FDA did not approve a warning label for a different type of fracture, it is not liable under state law.

Beshear, along with the other attorneys general, asks the court to consider three factors in rejecting Merck’s attempt to avoid a trial to determine its responsibilities:

·One, the Constitution gives states or its people all powers that are not specifically delegated to the federal government.

·Two, states have long played a vital role in protecting the safety of their citizens, including with regard to pharmaceutical products.

·Three, Merck’s argument is inconsistent with precedent regarding the balance between state and federal regulations, especially concerning consumer protection.

Bordering states who joined the brief included lead-state Virginia, Illinois and Indiana.

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