Will the Supreme Court allow the Bush administration to "preempt" State claims of drug safety?
Michigan is the only state that currently gives drug makers immunity for drugs that are approved by the FDA. As events of recent years have demonstrated, this immunity is unwise since the FDA approval may be based upon a failure to disclose, or even falsification of safety data by the manufacturer, and components may be tainted during production in China or elsewhere. Such unlikely groups as physicians have recommended that drug manufacturers NOT be afforded immunity from their negligence in drug manufacture and labeling. The Supreme Court of the U.S. heard argument on this issue this week in a case involving a violinist who lost an arm because of faulty drug labeling. Her verdict is being challenged by the drug maker and the Bush Administration.
The Bush Administration has pushed hard to "preempt" all state-law claims for drug-injured victims, by according federal immunity to all FDA-approved drugs. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Bush's preemption argument with respect to FDA-approved medical devices. While this mistake has already been made in Michigan and is "water-over-the-dam" so to speak, it would be a public policy error of monumental proportions for the Court to grant this broad immunity to drug-makers throughout the nation, based on a highly political FDA-approval procedure that is greatly-influenced by pharmaceutical money. We hope that the Court will look to the safety of the public, rather than the financial interest of one of the richest and most powerful lobbying interests in the country.
The case being heard this week is Levine v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and is discussed in an earlier blog entry on this site.