Lance v. Wyeth: A New Cause of Action in Pennsylvania?

Issuing an opinion over two years after oral argument, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week in Lance v. Wyeth that pharmaceutical companies can be held liable for negligence in the design and marketing of drugs. While the 4-2 majority opinion stated that Wyeth was asking for the court to impose “a new [restricted] duty regime” by ruling against such negligence claims, this decision actually expands the duty regime by allowing them.


In April 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Redux as a prescription weight-loss drug. The Redux packaging warned of an increased risk of pulmonary hypertension (“PPH”). By September 1997, Wyeth and the FDA announced that the drug would no longer be available in the United States following reports of an association between the medication and serious heart problems.

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