Thursday, March 19, 2009


America's Bantustan: Michigan Ready to Fall on Spear to Save Nation

Yesterday, there was a hearing at our state capital concerning Michigan's unique drug industry immunity law. Michigan is alone among the fifty states in having a full preemption law--no exceptions, even if the company commits felony fraud. In the U.S., such fraud is considered the moral equivalent of rape in public polls. In Sweden, it is considered the moral equivalent of murder (not manslaughter). We have had that law since 1996.

Thus, a vote against repeal is a vote favoring no accountability for rape or murder.

At yesterday's hearing, PhRMA put together a series of "talking points" for the state legislators opposed to rescinding our law. (In earlier votes, repeal was supported by most Dems and about one-third of the Republican representatives).

PhRMA's document was interesting. Among the highlights:

"Repealing this FDA lawsuit abuse law would keep millions of patients waiting unncessarily for medicines to save their lives or to improve the quality of their lives."

Most citizens in Michigans had not realized that they were performing combat-level sacrifice in order to save millions of lives. But we are patriotic state. And now that PhRMA has told us how much benefit derives from our legal apartheid, we are ready to do our duty.

Bless us.

Lord save us.


  1. The Pharma Industy and its supporters should be ashamed of themselves. They are like wolves dressed in sheep's skin with their fabricated, undocumented emotional pleas for preemption.

    An industry that bases its product approval on statistical evidence should be able to come up with more than overstated assumptions to support their case.

    For me to agree that elimination of product liability litigation is the only way to eliminate "lawsuit abuse" I need to know one thing.

    How much damage does litigation really do to the industry and the safety of consumer? Don't tell me it's "likely" to hurt the industry, you're asking me to give up my civil right to a day in court! Likely doesn't cut the mustard.

    PhRMA says "it's millions of patients waiting unnecessarily for medicines to save their lives or improve the quality of their lives". I would think that if there will be "millions" you could come up with some statistical evidence for that. Could'nt you extrapolate from the rest of the country? If not why not just say "billions", wouldn't that scare the masses into agreement even more?

  2. From an economic standpoint, who is paying for pharma’s mistakes?

    Preemption (Michigan’s law) is driving up costs of the state’s Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers because they are paying for drugs needed by individuals who were made ill by prescribed drugs, one of many examples is Zyprexa, i.e., “Alaska had sued to recoup medical bills it said were generated by Medicaid patients who developed diabetes while taking Zyprexa,” (Alex Berenson. NYT, 3/27/08).

    The State and insurance companies have no more availability to the court system than those made sick or ill.

    This whole thing is a terrible disgrace for pharma and America. Personally, I don’t know how the industry will ever get back their good name or the trust they once enjoyed.

  3. Jaynesday--As was pointed out at the hearings yesterday, there is no logical link between putting 3% of the U.S. population in legal rights apartheid and claiming that will "save" anybody. So even if we knew the _actual_ impact of defending lawsuits on pharma R&D, the issue of Michigan would be beside the point.

    The folks on the preemption side had no answer to that point yesterday. Quite extraordinary.

    Re: Elizabeth's point, beatifully made. There was an excellent presentation yesterday about what preemption has cost Michigan in terms of picking up the tab for liability and injury that would otherwise be pharma's responsibility. To that extent, apartheid has been very good for business--shafting the state along with its individual citizens.

    I have to check it, but I do believe Michigan has finally joined one of the Medicaid fraud suits--perhaps Zyprexa.

  4. Thanks, Doug. After thirteen years, we're not about to stop.

    This may be interesting. My class took up the issue of preemption the night before the hearings. They know my position, of course, but I made every possible effort to push the other side--and sincerely so. And, indeed, this is a class that leaps at the chance to disagree. They are not shy.

    Nonetheless, after trying every strategy I could, I could not convince one student that "lay juries" ought not have the right to disagree with an FDA decision. (We focussed on the Levine Vermont case, pre-Supreme Court).

    By a vote of 32-0, they asserted that there was nothing inherent about FDA determinations that could not, in fact, be "second-guessed" by adult jurors, and that there was nothing about these sorts of cases that intrinsically distinguished them from all the other complex cases that citizen-jurors are called upon to decide.

    My students are the future. The preemptors are already anachronisms, part of a past that, like much the rest of the past eight years, will eventually be remembered as a bad dream.

  5. Here comes the Gov.

    Sadly, it is only now that Gov. Granholm has risked making an explicit statement, except for half a sentence in her last state of the state address. The Chamber of Commerce runs deep, and is deeply funded. And, as you can sense from some other things quoted, playing fair is not what it's about.


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