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High Court Ruling Against Preemption Hurts Patients, Helps Trial Lawyers
Date:3/5/2009

DALLAS, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling against preemption is disastrous for patient access to necessary medicines and research for new therapies, and clearly elevates trial lawyers and local juries as the de facto authority on drug safety.

The high court has decided that federal law does not preempt state law in matters of drug safety, and consequently, a flood of frivolous liability lawsuits will cause patients to lose access to critical new medicines.

"The victors in this decision claim that eliminating preemption would make drug companies more rigorous in ensuring their drugs are safe; unfortunately, it would more likely make companies invention-averse," said Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) resident scholar and health care expert Dr. Merrill Matthews.

Without preemption, drug makers will be more risk averse, as they grind themselves for legal battles. The result is that patients will lose access to necessary medicines and research into new cures will decline.

"This is a win-win situation for trial lawyers, and a lose-lose for patients," said Matthews. "Lawsuits are expensive, and even the threat of baseless litigation can cause pharmaceutical firms to slow down and even stop creating and developing new products.

"Plaintiff Diana Levine's story is tragic, and the physician's assistant who misused the clearly labeled drug should be, and was, held accountable. But it's hard to see how the maker of the drug could be at fault," said Matthews.

Without a strong preemption principle, average Americans who serve on local juries will be asked to overrule the government scientists and medical experts who oversee the drug-approval process.

"Trial lawyers know that jurors are ill-suited to evaluate the merits of drug warning labels, which is exactly why they're behind this effort. Without preemption we'll see a surge of frivolous lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturers." said Matthews.

The Institute for Policy Innovation is an independent, non-profit public policy organization based in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Merrill Matthews is available for interview by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or erin@ipi.org.


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SOURCE Institute for Policy Innovation
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