recently held that drug manufacturers are subject to strict liability, rather than simple negligence, for failure to warn of known or knowable pharmaceutical risks.
Anderson discussed the concepts of negligence, strict liability, and absolute liability and upheld strict liability for failure to warn of known or knowable risks.
Furthermore, Carlin properly recognized the inadequacy of a negligence standard for failure to warn of these dangers.
In Carlin, the plaintiff claimed that Upjohn was strictly liable for failing to warn of the emotional, physical, and psychological dangers of Halcion that were either known to Upjohn or reasonably knowable scientifically.
Upjohn's argument misses the point because it fails to distinguish between two separate issues: (1) whether the manufacturer knew or could have known of a risk; and (2) whether the manufacturer decided not to warn of a known risk.
Brown rejected only absolute liability -- liability for failure to warn of a risk a manufacturer could not have known.
Brown characterized comment k as stating a principle of negligence because the manufacturer would be liable "only if it failed to warn of a defect of which it either knew or should have known.
Although Brown's reference to negligence has proved misleading to some, the court clearly was addressing a manufacturer's failure to use reasonable care in discovering a drug's danger, not the separate issue of a manufacturer's decision not to warn of a known or knowable danger.
Existing California law, as established in Brown and Anderson, therefore compelled the conclusion in Carlin that a plaintiff could maintain a cause of action in strict liability for failure to warn of known or knowable pharmaceutical risks unless there was a valid policy reason for carving out an exception for drugs.
Justice Joyce Kennard voiced similar concerns in advocating a modified negligence standard for failure to warn of drug risks.
Strict liability for failure to warn of a known or knowable danger does not subject manufacturers to any threat of liability over which they have no control.