Henry Greenspan made a brilliant point in a recent op-ed piece in the Detroit Free Press in response to the $2.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties levied against Pfizer for illegally marketing several of its drugs. As Greenspan points out, this is not only the largest fine imposed on a drug company, it is also the largest fine levied against any company in American history. Nevertheless, because of a14-year-old drug industry immunity law in Michigan, Michigan residents cannot bring suit over injuries or deaths caused by Pfizer drugs.
What’s more astonishing is the fact that Pfizer pled guilty to felony charges. Indeed, Pfizer’s subsidiary companies promoted their drugs for uses that were explicitly rejected by the FDA because of safety concerns. As Greenspan points out, as far as these off-labeling tactics caused injury and death, Pfizer’s actions are paramount to negligent homicide. Pfizer is, therefore, a self-admitted felon. However, Michigan citizens are still left with no recourse to hold Pfizer accountable for their actions.
Politicians who continue to defend Michigan’s ridiculous law will have to face Michigan voters in years to come. Generally, these politicians are on the right and with a gubernatorial race within a little over a year, these Republicans will have to find a way to explain their position to their voting base. Election day is right around the corner: November 2, 2010, to be exact. So be careful of which box you check on the ballot. Electing the wrong candidate could mean your right to sue a company who cares so little for your well-being that they would purposefully sell you drugs that could injure or kill you or your loved ones.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.