. . . I would . . . end the learned intermediary doctrine. The learned intermediary doctrine traditionally prevents consumers from suing pharmaceutical companies for failing to warn consumers of the dangers of a prescription drug. Instead, a consumer has to sue the pharmaceutical company for failing to warn doctors of the dangers of a specific drug. Because consumers can’t just buy a prescription drug on their own, they have to get a prescription from a doctor[, the] doctor acts as an intermediary between the consumer and the pharmaceutical company. And it is the doctor’s responsibility to ensure that the patient is a proper candidate for the drug. I believe if we abolished the learned intermediary doctrine, pharmaceuticals would be more forthcoming in their disclosures about specific drugs. Warning consumers about the dangers of a drug is different than warning doctors. Pharmaceutical companies would have to do more to educate the public than release a study in a medical journal, for example. More importantly, abolishing the learned intermediary doctrine would take into account how drugs are actually prescribed. In reality, many patients see a drug on TV and then decide they want that drug. They then get an appointment with their doctor, ask the doctor for a prescription, and the doctor writes the prescription with few if any questions. Instead of acting like a “learned intermediary,” many doctors act like nothing more than a middleman, happy to collect an office visit fee in exchange for a prescription for just about any drug a patient wants. Abolishing the learned intermediary doctrine would force pharmaceuticals to actively attempt to warn consumers about the dangers of specific drugs. This can only improve patient safety.I agree.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thoughts on the "learned intermediary doctrine"
In a comment on whether the ban on "off label marketing should be eliminated (available here), the blog Tort Deform makes the case for abolishing the "learned intermediary doctrine:"