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Drug Company Immunity-A Bad Deal for US Citizens

Apparently, the United States Supreme Court is going to take up the issue of absolute immunity for drug manufacturers if their dangerous products are FDA approved. Levine v Wyeth has been a topic of much discussion in legal circles and the case causes significant concern. As reported previously in this blog, my home state, Michigan, is currently the only state that gives drug manufacturers complete immunity if their horrendous drug was first FDA approved. As a result, disabled and disfigured Michigan citizens as well as the survivors of those killed by these bad drugs have been completely shut out of any chance of recovery. Thus, Vioxx, Fen-Phen, Redux, etc. victims can be compensated in 49 states; Michigan citizens are shut out.

A Supreme Court ruling for Wyeth in Levine v Wyeth would nationalize the Michigan disaster and prevent all United States citizens from pursuing big pharmacuetical companies for the devastating consequences of bad drugs. We lock up people for selling drugs that make us high; but we should give a free pass to those who sell drugs that kill and maim? What’s wrong with this picture? Here’s an interesting quote from the article that prompted this post:

“With 11,000 regulated drugs on the market and almost 100 more approved every year, the understaffed agency [the FDA] doesn’t have the resources to adequately ensure both efficacy and reasonable safety… The FDA alone simply lacks the ability to serve as the sole guarantor of drug safety,” said editors of the New England Journal of Medicine. This marks the first time that every editor-in- chief of the medical journal signed a Supreme Court brief. Obviously, FDA approval does not even approach a guarantee of safety for any drug; it is illogical and almost criminal to grant immunity simply because this overtaxed agency grants approval to a dangerous pharmaceutical.

Complete immunity for FDA approved drugs has been a disaster for Michigan citizens. It is my fervent hope that the United States Supreme Court has the wisdom and compassion to realize that drug company immunity is a free pass to the drug industry to injure, maim and kill our citizens without regard to safety. The most important safety tool available to our citizens is the threat of a lawsuit against an offending drug manufacturer. The elimination of this vital tool will permit the industry to “self-regulate”. If we have learned anything from the country’s financial crisis, we have learned that self-regulation does not work.

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