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The North Carolina House postponed voting on whether to make the state the second behind Michigan in protecting pharmaceutical companies from ……YOU! If the law later becomes effective, it would mean that if a drug is approved by the FDA, the drug manufacturer would be granted immunity from almost all lawsuits. The problem lies in that FDA approval does not necessarily mean a drug is safe.

This proposed law is part of an effort to reduce the cost of prescriptions, create more jobs, and make the state more business-friendly. In other words, it is putting business and profits over safety. Michigan enacted its law in 1995 in an effort to keep drug companies from leaving the state, and two years after the law went into affect Pfizer left Michigan taking 2,100 jobs. Soon, Michigan residents found that they were the only American citizens unable to receive compensation from injury or death stemming from taking an FDA-approved drug.

Supporters in North Carolina believe if the state can reduce the number of lawsuits then more companies will move to, or stay in, North Carolina – creating jobs and helping the economy. They say this law is necessary to get rid of frivolous lawsuits. I say, tell that to those that have lost a loved one from Avandia, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, a drug company with corporate offices in Triangle Park, NC.

Avandia has proven to increase the risks of congestive heart failure and heart attacks, bone fractures, and liver failure. GlaxoSmithKline recently settled a class action lawsuit for $460 million, which is approximately $45,000 per plaintiff. As preposterous as that is, if you live in Michigan, you would receive ZERO compensation. This could happen to North Carolina, too. Do you want to grant immunity to a drug company whose negligence killed your loved one?

Opponents have been running ads in an effort to fight this law. Here is one:

“Eight days after giving birth Tamara Ayers died of a heart attack caused by Parlodel. Thirty women had already died taking Parlodel, but they continued to sell it. This bill gives pharmaceutical companies that sell drugs, like Parlodel, legal immunity."

Hopefully their message is being heard. Apparently, now some Republicans are getting cold feet about approving the bill, especially the provision to protect drug manufacturers. I hope they have realized that supporting a policy that gives private industry a free pass for its neglect and abuse is a bad idea.

This law can cause severe harm to the people and the state of North Carolina. You will have no legal recourse after being victimized by the negligence of the multi-billion dollar drug industry; ask any victim in Michigan. Do you want to allow drug makers to kill and disable people with deadly drugs while the industry is guaranteed mammoth profits? If you are a North Carolina resident, write your state representative and stop this ludicrous proposal. This is no frivolous matter.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Hank Greenspan

    Hi Mark,

    As you know, I and a lot of other folks have been working hard for a long time to rescind Michigan's law. One correction though. Pfizer announced its decision to (mostly) leave Michigan in 2007--twelve, not two, years after the drug industry immunity law was passed.

    Doesn't matter. The foundation of our law has been rejected by the _entire_ Supreme Court (even the minority in Wyeth v. Levine supported a much narrower version of "FDA preemption" than Michigan's statute); the most respected voices in American medicine--the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine; the FDA itself, except for a brief period during Bush II; and about 70% of the people of Michigan.

    Can't be all "greedy trial lawyers" can they?

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