Drug manufacturers are facing potentially high-dollar claims in class actions for “medical monitoring.” Although this claim evolved in cases involving environmental exposure to toxic chemicals, the theory has migrated to prescription drugs, leaving both companies and courts to struggle with the resulting doctrinal and policy issues.

Traditionally, product liability claims over drug sales involve plaintiffs alleging current injury from the product. The necessary emphasis on family medical history, pre-existing conditions, individual lifestyles and variations among patients in the warnings seen, heard or relied upon often preclude class certification.