On Jan. 18, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a final rule to revise the required format of prescription drug labels so as to enable physicians to find the information they need more readily. New features include a section called “Highlights” and a Table of Contents. According to the FDA’s press release, this is the first time in 25 years that the labeling requirements have undergone a major revision.

One of the most important parts of the new rule is an 11-page statement proclaiming that FDA labeling requirements should pre-empt most state product liability claims. Courts across the country will now have to decide how much deference to give the FDA’s statement in determining whether certain state product liability claims against pharmaceutical companies, such as failure to warn claims, are barred because labeling approved by the FDA is deemed to have provided all the necessary warnings.

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