Originally published September 7 2008
Actor Dennis Quaid Urges Congress to Allow Lawsuits Against Drug Companies
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Actor Dennis Quaid, whose newborn twins were nearly killed when a hospital error led to a massive drug overdose, urged Congress to preserve people's ability to sue drug companies for injuries caused by their products.
Quaid and his wife are suing Baxter International, maker of the blood-thinning drug heparin, which nearly killed their children. The lawsuit alleges that Baxter knew that the labels on the child and adult doses of heparin were confusingly similar, as Baxter had already changed its labeling after three infants died from similar mix-ups. But the company failed to recall the older bottles with the confusing labels, leading to the error with Quaid's children.
Yet lawsuits such as Quaid's could be thrown out if the Supreme Court accepts the arguments of the Bush administration and the FDA that citizens should not be able to sue for injuries caused by an FDA-approved drug.
"FDA believes that the important decisions it makes about the safety, efficacy and labeling of medical products should not be second-guessed by state courts," FDA Deputy Commissioner Randall Lutter said.
The doctrine is called "preemption," and the high court has already upheld it for makers of medical devices. In another case pending before the court, the same argument is being made by drug makers.
If the court rules that preemption also applies to drug makers, "one of the most powerful incentives for safety - the threat of liability - would vanish," said Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Waxman has pledged support for legislation to reverse the Supreme Court's preemption decision on medical devices.
Quaid urged Congress to do the same for drugs.
"I believe if preemption of lawsuits is allowed to prevail, it will basically make all of us, the public, uninformed and uncompensated lab rats," Quaid said.
Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com.
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