A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit against Warner-Lambert Co. by a group of Michigan residents who claim they suffered injuries as a result of their use of the diabetes drug Rezulin.
In a ruling issued late Thursday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a lower court’s ruling that tossed out the case last year.
In February 2005, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan threw out the lawsuit by the Michigan plaintiffs, citing a Michigan law that shields pharmaceutical companies from product liability claims unless there is evidence that the drug company misrepresented or withheld material information in obtaining approval for the drug from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
At the time, the judge found that the Michigan claims couldn’t be distinguished from other state “fraud-on-the-FDA” claims that have previously found to be preempted by federal law.
On Thursday, the appellate court disagreed and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.
Warner-Lambert, which was acquired by Pfizer Inc. (PFE) in June 2000, pulled Rezulin from the market in March 2000 at the FDA’s request. The FDA initially approved the drug in 1997.
A Pfizer spokesman didn’t immediately have a comment late Thursday.