Giving Parking Tickets to Drug Companies – The Economics of Pharmaceutical ‘Safety’
Jason T. Brown, Guest Writer
There has been a proliferation of mass tort, class action lawsuits against drug manufacturers for dangerous, unsafe drugs they have placed into the stream of commerce and into people’s bodies. It’s no secret that drug companies rush to get their product to the market before the competition and have had a track record of failure.
They get away with it because the worst-case scenario for them is in the form of court costs and payouts to customers whose lives may be adversely affected by the consumption of the drugs. For these companies it is worth it, as a million-dollar settlement to a 100 billion dollar company is the equivalent to a small parking ticket for a wealthy individual.
One of the first prolific mass tort pharmaceutical cases involved Thalidomide, which was an anti-nausea medicine introduced in the 1950s as a sleeping pill. Doctors discovered its efficacy in assisting pregnant women with morning sickness, but as effective as it was for the women with their nausea it was equally problematic causing birth defects with limb malformation in newborns.
Nowadays, the drug companies rush to bring the world their next billion dollar a quarter product, bamboozle the FDA (an overworked agency which warrants its own discussion), and if they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar they may fight and fight, but they ultimately may pay the ticket or drag on the litigation in the hopes that the plaintiffs lose their resolve.
A salient example of this is with the new generation of birth controls they’re pushing on women. The old patents have expired on the second generation, so they need proprietary purportedly inventive pills and gimmicks to make more money, whether it’s in the shape of a patch (Ortho-Evra), a vaginal ring or a pill, Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, Gianvi. It may be ingenious in its marketing, in its sales, with its extra vitamins, or the cool new container it comes in, but what its not, is its not safer.
The hormone in Yaz, Yasmine, Ocella and Gianvi that is causing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Pulmonary Embolisms (PE), Stroke and Death is a fourth generation called drospirenone.
I’m an active litigator, not just a philosopher, consumer advocate and blogger. I battle on a daily basis with the drug companies and their lawyers who blame the victims, blame the plaintiff’s lawyers, blame the system, blame the FDA for approving it, and shame and blame anyone but their selves and their own conduct. When I ask the following question, they think it’s rhetorical, but it’s very real, “Why on earth should a new drug come onto the market if it’s less safe than the older one?” When you have come to understand the process like I have you will understand its economics.
If Bayer’s Yasmin, Yaz and Ocella caused a couple hundred million dollars of devastation to women in the form of blood clots, but they make a billion dollars a year on it, if the product runs for 20 years they make 20 billion dollars and paying a couple hundred million in damages is like paying a parking ticket to them. To the women who have to live with blood thinners, like daily shots of lovenox, coumadin clinics, or the equally troubling pradaxa, its not just a parking ticket it has altered their way of life. From high-risk pregnancies to possible amputations and in some cases the loss of a loved one the injuries from Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella are very real and can be very fatal.
In our lives when we receive too many tickets we may lose our driving privileges. Unless and until the drug companies are held accountable to the public at large and not just their shareholders than people’s lives will be altered by drugs that are rushed to approval without proper or logical restrictions. Right now the primary resistance comes in the form of court costs and with the tremendous amount of money represented in the form of lobbyists in Washington D.C., this will not change anytime soon. It is only through consumer awareness campaigns that the market can finally reflect what’s best for customers.
About the Author
Jason T. Brown is a Trial Attorney that fights for people’s rights nationwide and you can read more about him at www.IFightForYourRights.com. He was the managing partner of a Manhattan based law firm and former Special Agent and Legal Advisor with the FBI.
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