The Supreme Court has ruled that federal law doesn't block a lawsuit in state court brought by Diana Levine, who suffered injuries from improper administration of the drug Phenergan. The court ruled that Ms. Levine is entitled to a $6.7 million judgment against Phenergan's manufacturer, Wyeth.
Ms. Levine lost her arm to gangrene after Phenergan was inadvertently injected into one of her arteries during a push IV injection. She argued that Phenergan's labeling, while approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), didn't adequately warn of the risk of administering the drug through a push IV instead of an IV-drip. A Vermont jury awarded her damages and the Vermont Supreme Court upheld the ruling.
Wyeth argued that Ms. Levine's lawsuit, which was based on Vermont law, should be blocked by federal drug regulations. The FDA, Wyeth said, approved the drug's labeling. In the Supreme Court's majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens said that FDA oversight of drug labeling doesn't prevent state-level consumer liability lawsuits against drug companies.