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Supreme Court ponders whether to allow generic drug makers to be sued over drug design

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court will soon decide whether generic drug manufacturers can be sued in state court for a drug’s design defects after federal officials approved the brand-name version.

The justices Tuesday heard arguments from generic manufacturer Mutual Pharmaceutical Co, Inc., which wants a $21 million judgment dismissed.

A New Hampshire jury gave that to Karen L. Bartlett after she took sulindac, the generic form of the drug Clinoril. It caused at least 60 per cent of her skin to deteriorate or burn and permanent near-blindness.

Mutual says the award should be dismissed because, as required by federal law, sulindac matched Clinoril in composition. The company said that should pre-empt the jury’s verdict, which found that the generic version was faulty.