For Immediate Release: Friday, October 7, 2011
For More Information, Contact: Jane Garrott, 608-257-5741
Governor's Special Session Bill Endangers Wisconsinites,Gives Immunity for Defective Drugs & Medical Devices
"Job Creation" Legislation Creates No Jobs and Protects Wrongdoers
MADISON, WI - Governor Scott Walker's proposal to provide legal immunity for drug companies and medical device manufacturers whose products may injure Wisconsin citizens is a dangerous idea, a Wisconsin Association for Justice (WAJ) officer said today.
WAJ President Mike End, himself a medical malpractice attorney, said Walker's bill will not benefit average citizens and certainly create no jobs. The bill, LRB 2890, gives manufacturers of products that have received federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval immunity from legal action, even if those products are found to be dangerous and cause serious injury to unsuspecting victims.
"We have plenty of evidence that the FDA has approved products that injure people. Have you ever heard of Vioxx?" End said. "So what is the true purpose of this bill? "
"Wisconsin does not have to provide immunity for injuries and deaths to drug and medical device manufacturers - and pass the costs of those injuries and deaths on to the taxpayers - in order to create jobs," End explained. "Why would the Governor and some legislators object to allowing injured citizens their day in court?"
The pharmaceutical industry is extremely profitable now, End said. Merck, the maker of the dangerous arthritis drug Vioxx, made $2.3 billion the year before Vioxx was recalled.
Other well-known FDA-approved products that have injured or caused the death of consumers include the diet drug Fen-Phen, acne drug Accutane, diabetes drug Avandia, DePuy hip replacements, Shiley heart valves and the Dalkon Shield IUD.
"This bill appears to be modeled after legislation from the drug company-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) agenda," End added. "Our legislators now seem to be accepting horrible, cookie cutter bills from national lobbyists and trying to pass them off as solutions for Wisconsin."
If the drug immunity bill is passed, Wisconsin will be one of only two states that bar consumers from their day in court for such injuries. Because consumers elsewhere would still be able to sue a Wisconsin manufacturer for injuries, this bill would only limit the rights of injured Wisconsin citizens.
The WAJ will continue to actively oppose so-called tort "reform" bills introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature to reward large corporations and limit individuals' rights to seek justice in the courtroom.
"Ask yourself why a drug manufacturer would be afraid of a jury trial in the case of possible injuries to a consumer," End said. "If the judgment of twelve common citizens threatens your ability to make a profit, then perhaps you need to reconsider how you are doing business."
The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy.