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Evolution of the Learned Intermediary Doctrine in Illinois – Doctor Knows Best Mostly

IDC Quarterly Vol. 12, No. 3 (12.3i)

Summary: This articles deals with the so-called “learned intermediary” rule in pharmaceutical and medical device cases. In Kirk v. Michael Reese Hospital & Medical Center, 117 Ill. 2d 507 (1987) the Illinois Supreme Court recognized the “learned intermediary doctrine” as a defense to failure to warn claims in drug and medical device cases. The doctrine provides that a prescribing physician, as the “learned intermediary”, evaluates the pluses and minuses, safety and efficacy of prescription drugs and medical devices in deciding whether to prescribe them for the patient/plaintiff. In making that determination he preempts any claims that the patient should have been provided with additional warnings. The article points out erosion in the doctrine in Illinois as it relates to medical products such as IV tubing connections. Hanson v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 198 Ill. 2d 420, 430-38 (2002), and a topical oxygen chamber for home use (Friedl v. Airsource, Inc., 323 Ill. App. 3d 1039 (2001). Read More