In the context of the present case, Anderson could only apply if plaintiff could show that identified manufacturers' products had in fact been ingested at one time or another over the period, and had joined all of them, together with the physicians, hospitals and pharmacies in the chain, and that at least one of them had to be legally responsible for the claimed injury.
The present case does not begin to approach the res ipsa concept embodied by Anderson. That case involved a chain of activity from identified manufacturer of the rongeur, through distributor, to hospital and surgeon. The breaking off of the tip could intellectually be accepted as the fault of someone in the connected links of the chain, making it reasonable (as the Supreme Court saw it) to say that all defendants should be held liable except as one or another was able, by evidence, to exculpate.
The situation here is vastly different. It is shown, without contradiction, that there were more than 100 sources of various corticosteroids over the period. It was shown, without contradiction, that plaintiff was a drug abuser, not only as to corticosteroids but as to all other medications as well.
The drug abuse aspect, by itself, is sufficient to preclude any recovery on the Anderson or on the "enterprise" theories. Prescription medications are sold, not to the consumer but to pharmacies and hospitals, who are supposed to dispense only according to a physician's prescription. Even if plaintiff had not been a drug abuser, there is no suggestion in the pleadings or in the discovery that the physicians and hospitals had any choice but to prescribe a corticosteroid after diagnosis of plaintiff's individualized condition. The alternative may have been to prescribe some other medication that did not have the adverse consequences on a very long term basis that corticosteroids may have had, but that would have been ineffective for the treatment of the ailment.
The only discovery material provided by plaintiff on the medical aspects of the claim is a letter opinion of Dr. Vogelpohl, of Galveston, Texas, which nowhere suggests that there was any defect in the medications plaintiff had taken, and which nowhere suggests or implies that the many physicians who had treated her should have followed some different course of therapy. He recognizes that many physicians had tried to "taper off" the patient's use of steroids, but that this was possible only for very short periods after which a recurrence of acute attacks required resumption of their use, usually in larger doses temporarily.
Some of the defendants presented proof that no corticosteroid manufactured or marketed by them was indicated for the treatment of asthma. One had a product for treatment of arthritis, and plaintiff herself testified that she had never been prescribed medication for arthritis.
Not to be overlooked is New Jersey's requirement that in cases like this, where highly technical aspects dealing with biochemistry and medicine are involved, juries will not be allowed to speculate, and a plaintiff must have competent and qualified expert witnesses to provide the jury with understanding. See, e.g., Walck v. Johns-Manville, etc., 56 N.J. 533, 267 A.2d 508 (1970); Schueler v. Strelinger, 43 N.J. 330, 204 A.2d 577 (1964); Sanzari v. Rosenfeld, 34 N.J. 128, 167 A.2d 625 (1961). Dr. Vogelpohl's letter opinion, which plaintiff says is all that can be presented by way of expert testimony, falls far short of this requirement.
Finally, it is noted that the fact materials presented by defendants are in no way denied or put in issue as matters of fact.
All in all, the case amounts to no more than a shotgun selection of a handful of manufacturers of the entire class of corticosteroids, without any evidence in hand that any manufacturer of the more than 100 can be faulted for their product which, from every indication, successfully treated plaintiff's asthmatic condition and which may well have done so without the adverse effects claimed had plaintiff not been a drug abuser.
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