Monday, November 03, 2008

Court weighs amputee's case, limits on drug suits

Court weighs amputee's case, limits on drug suits

WASHINGTON – A Vermont musician who lost her arm because of a botched drug injection is squaring off against a drug maker and the Bush administration in one of the most closely watched business cases of the Supreme Court's term.

At issue is whether the federal government can limit lawsuits by consumers like Diana Levine who have been harmed by prescription medications.

The justices are hearing arguments in Levine's case Monday, shortly after the court announces whether it will accept other cases for argument sometime next year.

The issue of limiting lawsuits arises in the heart-rending story of Levine, a guitarist and pianist who lost her right arm after an injection of the anti-nausea drug Phenergan, made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

A Vermont jury awarded Levine $6.7 million, agreeing that Wyeth should have been clearer in its warning label about the risks of improperly administering the drug.

Wyeth and the administration, however, are asking the court to rule that drug makers may not make changes to labels without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration and that people cannot sue under state law for harm caused by an FDA-approved drug.

I really don't think you cannot find an RN that doesn't know the dangers of phenergan IV push. Luckily most of my patients have central lines so its a non issue for me most of the time. I would like to know if she sued the ER as well and how much she got from them. I think the blame should be on the ER staff however even though you have a patent IV that doesn't mean it won't infiltrate during the push.

I do not think we are far from most facilities changing their policies to not giving phenergan by peripheral IV since there are other options such as IV via central lines, and suppository form. Zofran I believe may be a more expensive alternative to phenergan but faced with a potential for a huge suit may be a better choice.

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