The generic version of the drug Zofran is not equivalent to the brand version, ondansetron. In fact, no generic drug is equivalent to a brand drug, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2011 – by a 5-4 vote in Mensing vs. Pliva, and another 5-4 vote in Mutual Pharmaceuticals vs. Bartlett – the high court ruled that a person hurt by a generic version of a branded drug does not have the same civil protections as a person hurt by a brand name drug.
The first generic versions of Zofran hit the market in June 2007. Women who took a generic version of Zofran and then gave birth to babies with birth defects do not have the same recourse as women who took branded Zofran, and consequently may have difficulty finding a lawyer to represent them. They will not be the first to suffer the injustice of the Supreme Court’s unconscionable decision to allow drug companies unlimited profits with virtually zero accountability for the safety of their products.
Generic change in the Wind
Some help may be on the way, but it will likely arrive too late to help women who, through no fault of their own, took generic versions of Zofran. As a result of the Mutual Pharmaceuticals v. Bartlett ruling – a case in which a New Hampshire woman became permanently disabled after using an inadequately labeled generic drug – Sen. Al Franken (D-Min.) and several of his colleagues urged the FDA to take action and help prevent consumers from facing serious injuries. Read Sen. Franken’s letter to the FDA here.
Brand vs. Generic Drugs
The next time you visit the pharmacy to fill a prescription, you might ask your pharmacist if he or she knows that the generic version of your prescription is not covered by the same tort law that the brand drug is. You might also ask to have that prescription filled by the brand name drug, to protect your rights in the event that the drug does not work as advertised, or that it later causes you or a loved one harm.