Learned Intermediary Doctrine Bars Product Liability Claim Against Zyprexa Manufacturer As Psychiatrists Prescribed After Warning Issued

A diabetic man took Zyprexa to treat his schizophrenia.The manufacturer of Zyprexa notified the man’s treating psychiatrists of a risk of Zyprexa exacerbating diabetes. The treating psychiatrists continued to prescribe Zyprexa even after receiving this warning. The man’s diabetes worsened resulting in cataracts and end-stage renal disease.


The man sued the manufacturer of Zyprexa claiming that he would not have taken the drug had he been adequately warned of the risks. The manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court applied the learned intermediary doctrine and granted the manufacturer’s motion for summary judgment.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Under Nebraska law, a failure-to-warn claim requires the plaintiff to prove that, but for the defendant's breach of its duty to warn, the plaintiff would not have been injured. The learned intermediary doctrine applies to product liability cases involving prescription drugs. The doctrine posits that a prescription drug manufacturer's duty to warn extends only to members of the medical profession and not to the consumer. Summary judgment was appropriate because the plaintiff did not show the existence of any genuine dispute as to any material fact on the question of causation because he adduced no evidence permitting an inference that his treating psychiatrists would have altered their prescription decisions if the manufacturer had provided different warnings.



See: McElroy v. Eli Lilly & Co., 2012 WL 3871425 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), September 07, 2012) (not selected for publication in the Federal Reporter).