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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Drug Industry Immunity Endangers Women According To New Study

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One week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case, Wyeth vs. Levine, that would give the Drug Industry and "Big Pharma" complete immunity, the Center For Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) has issued a report that demonstrates the danger to women from a Drug Industry victory. In THE BITTEREST PILL – How Drug Companies Fail To Protect Women and How Lawsuits Save Their Lives the CJ&D has demonstrated how Drug Companies have targeted women with dangerous drugs and medical devices:

New York – A new report released today by the national consumer rights group Center for Justice & Democracy finds that many of this country’s dangerous government-approved drugs and devices have been marketed specifically for women. Many of these products were removed or made safer only after women filed lawsuits.

The release of the report, THE BITTEREST PILL – How Drug Companies Fail To Protect Women and How Lawsuits Save Their Lives, comes less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in Wyeth v. Levine, widely considered to be one of the court’s most important decisions this term. The Court will hear arguments on November 3 whether to afford the drug industry unprecedented legal immunity for causing injuries or death, despite negligent or irresponsible behavior.

An example of this behavior is "estrogen replacement therapy" (ERT):

Hormones were approved by the FDA and heavily promoted by the pharmaceutical industry beginning in the 1960s to women experiencing menopause. Yet evidence had existed since the 1930s and 1940s that estrogen therapy caused cancer. After years of struggle by consumer groups and women’s health organizations to bring attention to the cancer and other risks, in 2002 NIH researchers finally confirmed a significant increase in the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, blood clots and strokes. By then, an untold number of women had been harmed or killed from being over-prescribed HRT.

Other drugs and devices described in the report include high-absorbency tampons, parlodel and accutane.

The report draws a connection between the importance of the tort system and the trial lawyers and protecting women. In dramatizing the importance of that protect the report demonstrates, through its own admissions, the inability of the FDA to regulate the powerful Drug Industry because of lack of resources.

In other words, as important as lawsuits are in protecting women’s health and compensating injured women, the consequence of immunizing drug companies from all liability for FDA approved drugs would be far greater than simply losing the ability to sue in some cases. It is hard to envision the catastrophe that would result.

Liability tells manufacturers that there is a potential financial cost for deaths and injuries caused by the unsafe product, and they must weigh that against the costs of taking the corrective action. Simply speaking, when injuring women becomes more expensive than not injuring them, drug companies stop injuring women. costs for harming and killing women to zero. It would remove the most significant and effective financial consequence to a company for choosing to keep a dangerous drug or device on the market. Establishing immunity would reduce the potential liability.

The U.S. Supreme Court, now dominated by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have shown a strong tendency to favor the powerful corporations the the Republican Presidents who appointed them favored and worked closely with in dismantling the legal protections of the American jury trial. Will the Drug Industry reap the same benefits that Wall Street just won in the Bailout Bill? Stay tuned and tell your representatives to keep the court house doors open.