Since 1996, Michigan law has immunized drug manufacturers from product liability claims if the drug at issue was approved by FDA and included an FDA-compliant label. The Michigan legislature recently signaled an end to this unique state law feature with the passage of Senate Bill No. 410, which strikes wholesale the immunity provision from the Michigan Product Liability Act. Last week that bill cleared the house with bipartisan support and has been sent to Governor Whitmer for signature. Legislative history indicates this change will only apply to causes of action accruing after its enactment, but at the same time acknowledges its potential impact going forward: “[t]he bill, if enacted, would not apply ex post facto. Any past damages while the immunity provision was in effect could not be the basis for future claims; however, enactment of the bill could alter pharmaceutical marketing and prescribing practices in anticipation of future litigation.”
SB 410 leaves intact the rebuttable presumption of no liability if the aspect of the product causing harm complied with applicable federal or state standards. Irrespective of this presumption, pharmaceutical manufacturers should be prepared to face a new and more challenging product liability landscape in the state of Michigan.
Bowman and Brooke’s national pharmaceutical and medical device team, along with 18 experienced product liability attorneys in the Firm's Detroit office, are ready to answer questions you may have regarding this significant change in Michigan law and equally ready to defend cases that will undoubtedly appear shortly after this new law takes effect.