The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently reiterated Pennsylvania Law in this area in the case of Lance v. Wyeth, 4 A.3rd 160 Pa. 2010. In this action, the Estate of Catherine Ruth Lance brought an action against Defendant Wyeth, the manufacturer of a prescription drug called Redux, which has been used to treat obesity.
Catherine Ruth Lance was diagnosed with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPH) approximately seven years after she stopped using the prescription drug Redux. Studies have determined that the prescription drug Redux carries with it a significant risk for causing PPH. PPH was a cause of Ms. Lance’s death in December, 2004. She had only been diagnosed with PPH on or about November 15, 2004, approximately one month before her death. She had ingested the drug for approximately three months before discontinuing its use, in the time frame of approximately January 15, 1997 through April 1997.
During this litigation, Defendant Wyeth filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, stating that the Estate of Ms. Lance did not assert a cognizable claim for strict liability under Pennsylvania Law. Partial Summary Judgment was granted and the Superior Court affirmed, based on the fact that in Pennsylvania there are only two possible strict liability claims for dangerous drugs: (1) Manufacturing defects or (2) failure to warn.
In this case the Estate of Lance had conceded that they were not asserting a failure to warn, but that Wyeth was negligent in placing an unreasonably dangerous product into the market, in essence alleging that Wyeth should be held liable for “Unreasonable Marketing” and “Unreasonable Failure to Remove (Redux) from the Market”. The Court disagreed but allowed the case to go forward on the negligent design claim part of the manufacturing defect prong of the current test where strict liability claims can be brought as it pertains to dangerous drugs.
Therefore, Pennsylvania Law has not been expanded in this area.