Show of hands, please? How many of those reading this post knew, before seeing the heading, which was the only state in the country that provided absolute immunity to the makers of (injury, disability and death causing) dangerously defective drugs, as long as the particular poison was first approved by the FDA? I know you cheated and looked, but the answer is, of course, MICHIGAN. Since 1996, when then Governor John Engler and his pro-business Republican cronies snuck this provision into the ass-end of a bill, Michigan given big pharma a complete pass. Michigan citizens cannot sue the drug industry for the dangerous, defective drugs they bring to market. No exceptions, no way, no how, can’t do it. Can’t sue on Fen Ph en, Paxil, Vioxx, Yazmin, or any of the other poisons that have been brought to market. And they can’t sue for the illegal marketing of Bextra, Zyvox, Geodon and Lyrica, the sales of which have resulted in the largest fine ever imposed on any U.S. Company (not just any drug company, any company by the federal government and a guilty plea by the perpetrator, Pfizer, for felony fraud.
The article attached to this post was written by Henry Greenspan, a Harvard and Brandeis educated PHD whose primary career focus has been writing and teaching about the Holocaust. Thus, with that background, his statement that Pfizer is a "self-confessed felon" is even more powerful. Dr. Greenspan (and almost every other right-thinking Michigander, except the Republicans in the state legislature) opines that Michigan’s 14-year-old drug industry immunity law should be abolished. Yet, he says, "even if the context of felony fraud; even in the context of putting patients at risk", this law will remain in place and "Michigan citizens will be entirely without recourse". This is because of two very narrow exceptions in Michigan’s immunity law. One exception is for fraud against the FDA, but it does not apply to fraud perpetrated against Medicare, Medicaid and the armed services. The second exception, also not applicable, is that the drug would not have been approved but for the fraud. So, Dr. Greenspan concludes:
Pfizer committed felony fraud and was punished on a scale unparalleled in American history. By implication, that fraud may have resulted in death and injury to a large number of people. But, in Michigan, it remains impossible for any of those people, or their survivors, to hold Pfizer accountable.
As Dr. Greenspan points out, election day in November 2, 2010. If you live in Michigan, find out who your state representative and state senator are. Contact their offices and ask them where they stand on drug industry immunity. If they say they are "for it". Tell them you are voting for their opponents and then get out and vote for their opponents (unless they are also for immunity, which is somewhat unlikely). If you don’t vote, you have only yourself to blame. Those who support this almost criminal law must be held accountable and must lose their jobs. We, the people should be mad as hell and we should not take it anymore.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.