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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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It’s Time For the Michigan Senate to Roll Back Drug Industry Immunity

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Residents of Michigan who have been injured as a result of taking prescription drugs they were told was safe are championing the fight to end the unprecedented immunity given to drug manufacturers in this state. With the passage of House Bills 4316, 4317, and 4318, the responsibility of giving injured Michiganders a chance to seek justice rests in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. Grassroots organizations such as DIIME (Drug Industry Immunity Must End) have courageously fought against powerful corporate interests to give future victims a chance to seek redress from the sale of dangerous drugs.

The House versions of the bills perform three major functions: (1) they eliminate the current immunity against products liability lawsuits that specifically applies to drugs approved by the FDA; (2) they create a three year window in which claims filed for injuries attributable to FDA-approved drugs during the time the immunity was in place; and (3) they allow civil suits under the Consumer Protection Act if a business misrepresented risks associated with a drug, herb, dietary supplement, or botanical supplements.

Taking away immunity based on FDA approval makes perfect sense in light of the United States Supreme Court decision in Wyeth v Levine, which held that FDA approval did not pre-empt state law tort claims against drug manufacturers. Moreover, Michigan has a proud and rich tradition of protecting consumer rights and allowing civil suits under the Consumer Protection Act reinforces the ideal that consumers should be protected against deceitful and greedy corporations. Moreover, giving the right to sue is more than just about awarding judgments to injured parties, it creates an actual incentive for corporations to be honest, careful, and cautious while creating new drugs.