High court rule may affect right to sue drug makers

Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could decide whether people harmed by prescription drugs could recover damages for their injuries by suing in state courts. The pharmaceutical industry argues that manufacturers whose drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should be protected from liability, according to the Natural News.

FDA approval isn’t a guarantee of safety. For example, last spring, FDA-approved batches of heparin were recalled after they were found to have been contaminated. The tainted drug killed more than 80 people and sickened hundreds more before the FDA recalled the medication.

At issue in the new Supreme Court term is the “final rule” established on June 30, 2006, by the FDA. That rule protects drug companies whose drugs have harmed others from lawsuits by individuals who have been harmed. This extends to companies that deliberately withheld information that would have proven their drug to be harmful.

According to the Natural News story, the FDA runs without oversight and has declared that it gets the final word on a drug’s safety regardless of its harmful effects. Therefore, both the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies it represents are protected from suits under this arbitrary rule.

The Supreme Court currently is considering a lawsuit against drug-maker Wyeth and its drug Phenergan after a woman who received an injection of the nausea drug led to a gangrene infection that resulted in the amputation of her arm. Wyeth is accused of inadequately warning about the risks involved with this type of injection.