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Prescription Drugs are not “Consumer Goods” Within the Meaning of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act and Manufacturing Defect Claim Dismissed

Pease v. Abbott Lab., Inc.
Case No.: JKB-12-1844 (D. Md. January 16, 2013)

by Gregory L. Arbogast, Associate
Semmes, Bowen & Semmes (

In Pease v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., Judge Bredar of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed two (2) counts of an eleven (11)-count Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiffs, Elizabeth Pease and her husband, Ronald Pease, alleged that Mrs. Pease suffered injuries as a result of taking the prescription drug Humira, which Defendant, Abbott Laboratories, Inc., manufactured. Count II of Plaintiffs’ Complaint alleged that Defendant was strictly liable for a manufacturing defect, and Count IX of Plaintiffs’ Complaint alleged that Defendant violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (“MCPA”). Judge Bredar dismissed both counts for a failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

Judge Bredar dismissed Plaintiffs’ manufacturing defect claim because Plaintiffs failed to allege any facts which tended to show that Humira was defective when it left Defendant’s control or that Humira was “unreasonably defectively manufactured.” Consistent with the Supreme Court’s holding in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, Judge Bredar first stripped away all of Plaintiffs’ conclusory allegations. Judge Bredar determined that the only remaining factual allegations were that Humira left Defendant’s control and that it reached Mrs. Pease without substantial change in its condition. Such limited factual allegations were insufficient to support a claim that Defendants defectively manufactured Humira.

Judge Bredar also dismissed Count IX of Plaintiffs’ Complaint, which was Plaintiffs’ claim that Defendant violated the MCPA. Plaintiffs claimed that:

Abbott engaged in deceptive practices by engaging in false and misleading [conduct], . . . including indicating that Humira was safe for use concomitantly with methotrexate and/or corticosteroids, and omitting that Humira had reportedly caused central nervous system problem [sic] due to autoantibodies or demyelination, and encephalitis and/or meningitis in patients.

The Court, however, found that an essential element of a MCPA violation is that the plaintiff actually suffered harm as a result of the MCPA violation. Judge Bredar held that Plaintiffs had not alleged any facts which would support a claim that they were damaged as a result of the allegedly false and misleading advertising. Moreover, Judge Bredar also found that prescription drugs are not “consumer products” within the meaning of the MCPA because they are not “goods which are primarily for personal, household, family, or agricultural purposes.” Therefore, Judge Bredar also dismissed Count IX of Plaintiffs’ Complaint.