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In Re: Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices and v. Smithkline Beecham Corporation D/B/A Glaxosmithkline
September 7, 2011
IN RE: AVANDIA MARKETING, SALES PRACTICES AND PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION SAMUEL MORGAN JR. ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
SMITHKLINE BEECHAM CORPORATION D/B/A GLAXOSMITHKLINE
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Cynthia M. Rufe
THIS DOCUMENT APPLIES TO:
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The plaintiff in this case is a former user of the prescription diabetes drug Avandia. Plaintiff does not allege that he has been physically injured as a result of taking Avandia; instead he seeks a refund of any monies he paid for Avandia (including insurance co-pays) and medical monitoring. Each type of relief is sought on behalf of a class of similarly-situated individuals (the "Refund Class" and the "Monitoring Class," respectively), but no classes have been certified. The defendant, GlaxoSmithKline LLC ("GSK"), has filed a motion to dismiss. The motion will be granted.
Plaintiff alleges that GSK promoted the use of Avandia to lower blood-sugar levels of patients with Type 2 diabetes. Plaintiff also alleges that taking Avandia significantly increases the patient's chances of suffering a heart attack or susceptibility to other health risks, and that GSK concealed the risks of Avandia use while promoting the drug's safety, efficacy, and effectiveness through a fraudulent and deceptive marketing program. *fn1 According to Plaintiff, this resulted in Plaintiff and others purchasing Avandia instead of seeking alternative treatments. *fn2
Plaintiff alleges that his is a resident of Pennsylvania and that on or after May 25, 1999, he was prescribed Avandia for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, that he purchased the drug and was "exposed" to Avandia for at least 12 weeks, *fn3 and having been exposed, he is at high risk for future myocardial ischemic events. *fn4 These are the only allegations in the complaint specific to Plaintiff.
Dismissal of a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is appropriate where a plaintiff's "plain statement" does not possess enough substance to show that plaintiff is entitled to relief. *fn5 In determining whether a motion to dismiss is appropriate the court must consider those facts alleged in the complaint, accepting the allegations as true and drawing all logical inferences in favor of the non-moving party. *fn6 Courts are not bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. *fn7 Something more than a mere possibility of a claim must be alleged; the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." *fn8 The complaint must set forth direct or inferential allegations with regard to all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory. *fn9 The court has no duty to "conjure up unpleaded facts that might turn a frivolous action . . . into a substantial one." *fn10
A. Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
On behalf of the proposed Refund Class, Plaintiff alleges
violations of Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer
Protection Law ("UTPCPL"). *fn11 The statute
prohibits "[u]nfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive
acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce,"
*fn12 and in addition to listing specific
prohibited practices, includes a "catch-all provision" that bars
"[e]ngaging in any . . . fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates
a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding." *fn13
GSK argues that the UTPCPL does not apply to prescription drugs because the learned intermediary doctrine interposes the prescribing physician between the patient and the pharmaceutical company, and that even if the statute did apply, Plaintiff has not alleged the elements of a UTPCPL claim.
"Under the learned intermediary doctrine, the drug manufacturer
owes a duty of disclosure to the prescribing physician, but it is then
the duty of the prescribing physician to communicate any risks or
other information about the drug to the patient." *fn14
As courts have held, "the existence of the 'learned
intermediary' doctrine in Pennsylvania makes it difficult, if not
impossible, for plaintiffs to successfully bring a UTPCPL claim based
on a prescription drug." *fn15 Plaintiff
argues that the doctrine does not bar his claims because Defendant 1)
subverted the learned intermediary doctrine by providing ...
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