Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Drug Litigation Lawsuit Pitting Wyeth Against Woman Who Lost Her Arm After Taking Anti-Nausea Drug Phenergan

This week, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a drug litigation lawsuit pitting a musician, whose arm was amputated after she was given an anti-nausea drug, and drug maker Wyeth. Diane Levine’s arm had to be removed after a physician’s assistant accidentally injected the anti-nausea drug Phenergan into her artery in April 2000. She was administered the drug at a clinic where she was treated for migraine headaches.

Levine sued the clinic, the supervising physician, and the physician’s assistant who injected the drug into her artery for medical malpractice and settled with all parties out of court. She sued Wyeth for its alleged failure to warn clinicians that they should use the safer IV drip, instead of the intravenous “push” method, to administer to Phenergan to her.

A civil jury awarded Levine $7.4 million million, and a judge reduced the amount to $6.7 million. The Vermont Supreme Court upheld the verdict.

Now, Wyeth wants the US Supreme Court to reverse the ruling. The drug maker says that it was in compliance with Food and Drug Administration standards and should therefore be protected from product liability lawsuits filed in state courts.

Wyeth, an independent record label owner, says her business was “crippled” by the loss of her arm. She also says that losing her arm destroyed her musical identity, her source of income, and her self-image.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Drug Labeling in Case of Woman Who Lost Forearm to Gangrene, Fox News, November 4, 2008
High Court Case Looms Large for Drugmakers, Washington Post, November 4, 2008
The Court Confronts a Grievous Injury, NY Times, November 7, 2008

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Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

Food and Drug Administration

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