Supreme Court Ruling Boosts Medical Tech

Decision restricts suits under state law over devices OK'd by feds
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2008 6:20 PM CST
With the addition of the Supreme Court's newest member, Justice Samuel Alito Jr., top row at right, the high court sits for a new group photograph in this March 3, 2006 file photo, at the Supreme Court...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Supreme Court ruling today makes it nearly impossible for patients and their families to sue makers of federally approved medical devices under state law. The court ruled 8-1 in favor of cardiovascular device company Medtronic, dismissing a suit brought by a patient injured after one of the company's balloon catheters burst during an angioplasty, the New York Times reports.

Justice Antonin Scalia noted that the FDA averages 1,200 hours reviewing each device and needs "reasonable assurance" of "safety and effectiveness" before granting approval. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the sole dissenter, claimed the decision represents a "radical curtailment of state common-law suits." The plaintiff's attorney was more plainspoken: “Pretty bad for patients, pretty good for industry profits," she said.