Rise of Generic Drug Prescriptions Creates Liability Nightmare

Under current law, generic drug manufacturers are less responsible for adverse reactions than brand-name manufacturers.
1:50 | 03/19/13

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Transcript for Rise of Generic Drug Prescriptions Creates Liability Nightmare
And we learn today that for the first time in half a century, americans a spending less on prescription drugs. A small drop due in part to have the switch away from brand names toward cheaper generic pills. Tonight, more than 80% of all prescriptions are generic drugs. But one patient has taken her story all the way to the supreme court. What happened to her? Abc's linzie janis. Reporter:53 year old karen bartlett -- once an independent mother and wife is now essentially captive in her own home. Reporter: She is nearly blind and almost died. After taking a generic pain dprug eight years ago. This happened because I took a medication prescribed to me just for shoulder pain. Reporter: She sued the generic manufacturer, got a $21 million judgment, but hasn't seen a dime of it. That's because in 2011 the supreme court limits the responsibility of generic drug manufacturers. Because all they've done is copy the brand name formula. Many feel this is unfair. In high school, a doctor prescribed acue tan. A acne medicine. The pharmacy gave him the generic version. At college he fill ill, bleeding internally and had to have his entire large intestine removed. He blames the medicine. They have sued the brand name maker of accutane. The brand name is appealing. No lawyer would take gabe's case, because he had taken the generic version. Today, karen's case was heard by the supreme court, which will decide if the generic drug manufacturer can be held accountable. Unless the law changes, most people taking generic have no legal recourse if the drug makes them sick. Linzie janis, abc news, new hampshire.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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