Monday, October 19, 2009

Protect the Victims or Big Pharma?

I've little sympathy for an industry (the pharmaceutical industry) that has a track record for reaping billion dollar profits while mangling the lives of countless users of their products.

The pharmaceutical industry has little credibility with me. I've seen the way they've worked. The FDA, an agency designed to protect the public was, in essence, preempted by the pharmaceutical industry. Thousands of lawsuits have hit the industry. Why? Simple. The industry is willing to take huge risks with our lives in order to make huge profits from us. This is not to say there are not good drugs made, or that there has not been some good things done by the industry. However, they are an industry that has created chaos within our society. They have ruined lives, indeed, destroyed lives, and maimed citizens and their children in a manner that would make Hitler's experimenters green with envy.

Michigan, after a decade of protecting the industry with the so called "FDA defense," has done away with it and given the public back the laws of tort protection under a product liability statute. The old law (FDA defense) held that pharmaceutical manufacturers could not be sued (regardless of the devastation their product caused), provided their product was approved by the FDA, our nation's drug regulator, (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration). In short, if the FDA has determined a drug is safe, there can be no lawsuit unless the pharmaceutical company intentionally withheld critical information, or in some way materially misled the FDA, or misrepresented the product in their advertising.

Any lawyer can tell you that is a pretty tough burden. It's a proof burden made even more difficult when the FDA has a history of being "in bed" with the pharmaceutical industry. But, I suppose we could never suppose that the FDA would ever ignore warnings from scientists, would they? Even if their own scientists and doctors and officers issued such warnings, surely they'd not side with the pharmaceutical companies, would they? (Okay, my cynicism showing, I know.)

Eli Lilly settled about 8100 lawsuits pending on June 15, 2005. These were lawsuits over the drug Zyprexa. Lilly didn't warn about the risk (which they knew but conveniently failed to warn the patients about) that this drug could cause diabetes. The interesting thing is the FDA knew about 20 deaths and 12 suicides among individuals taking this drug, but never reported them to doctors or the American public. Neither did Eli Lilly.

This is but one example of many, of the arrogance of the FDA and the greed of the pharmaceutical companies, which puts yours and my health behind the economical interests of Big Pharma.

For one of the most interesting and informative books ever written about the FDA and the incestuous relationship between this agency and the pharmaceutical industry, see the excellent book Fight for Your Health: Exposing the FDA's Betrayal of America by Byron J. Richards. It is documented and a worthwhile read. Every lawyer who takes on the Big Pharma monster ought to read this book. Every citizen needs to read this book.

It could, literally, save your life.

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