In Huck v. Trimark Physicians Group, 2013 WL 1749774 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 24, 2013), the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of both brand-name and generic manufacturers of metoclopramide in a case involving a plaintiff who took only the generic form. The Court affirmed dismissal of the claims against the brand-name manufacturers, holding that PLIVA, Inc. v. Mensing, 131 S.Ct. 2567 (2011), did not change Iowa law that a manufacturer cannot be held liable for injuries arising from a product it did not manufacture. As to Plaintiff’s claims against the generic company, PLIVA, the Court held that they all amounted to attacks on the adequacy of the label and were thus preempted by Mensing.
On the innovator liability issue, the Court reasoned that Mensing’s holding on preemption of claims against generic manufacturers did not alter existing state law principles, which in Iowa require plaintiff to “prove that the injury-causing product was a product manufactured or supplied by the defendant.” 2013 WL 1749774, at *4. Iowa thus joins the substantial majority of states which have rejected attempts to hold innovator companies liable for injuries allegedly caused by taking the generic version of a medication, and departs from the recent Alabama decision allowing innovator liability in Wyeth, Inc. v. Weeks, 2013 WL 135753 (Ala. Jan. 11, 2013).
As to preemption of the claims against the generic company, the court rejected Plaintiff’s attempts to distinguish Mensing and expressly declined to follow the rationale of the recent Sixth Circuit decision in Fulgenzi v. PLIVA, 2013 WL 949096 (6th Cir. Mar. 13, 2013), which had allowed a failure-to-warn claim to move forward when the generic manufacturer failed to update its label to conform to the branded drug label. The Court also rejected Plaintiff’s argument that PLIVA should have disseminated warnings consistent with approved labeling through other means, noting that Plaintiff also argued that the warning was inadequate, and “Iowa law does not provide a cause of action for failing to disseminate allegedly inadequate warnings.” 2013 WL 1749774, at *3.
Huck provides further support for state courts to broadly enforce Mensing and to reject “innovator liability,” notwithstanding the recent Fulgenzi and Weeks opinions.