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On March 4, 2009, The United States Supreme Court Rejected the Rationale Behind Michigan's Drug Product Liability Law
Date:3/4/2009

DETROIT, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- On March 4, 2009, the United States Supreme Court in the case of Wyeth v. Levine, rejected the drug company's argument that because it was complying with FDA standards it should be immune from suit. Because of this decision, citizens in all states except Michigan can continue to sue drug companies whose products injure the citizens of those states.

During the term of former Governor John Engler, the Republican legislature passed a statute granting immunity to companies (drug companies) whose products are approved by the FDA. That statute which denied Michigan citizens the right to sue for injuries sustained from dangerous drugs was believed by drug companies to set a pattern which would allow the drug companies to deny the citizens in the other 49 states the right to sue.

Using the theory of "Federal Pre-emption" Wyeth told the United States Supreme Court that under the law it could not change its labeling to warn people such as Mrs. Levine that the Wyeth drug Phenergan by the iv - push method had the potential of causing serious injuries and death, including amputation, because the FDA laws did not allow such a change in the warnings. The United States Supreme Court found this to be untrue after analyzing the existing laws.

Two editorials in the leading medical journals, Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, both criticized the attempts of the drug companies to seek immunity and encouraged the United States Supreme Court not to recognize Federal Pre-emption if it meant preventing state court actions against drug companies. The authors of these editorials pointed to the numerous drug products where drug companies hid information about the dangers of drugs that was only uncovered and made available to the medical profession by the filing of state lawsuits which allowed state courts to order drug companies to turn over documents that the drug companies had either hidden from the FDA or mischaracterized to the FDA.

The decision according to Michigan Trial Lawyer, J. Douglas Peters of Charfoos & Christensen, P.C., "This decision may have a sobering impact on the Republicans in the Michigan Senate which should immediately consider reversing Michigan's unique and unfair law to bring Michigan back into line with the law of the other 49 states, as recognized by the United States Supreme Court in its new decision."

According to Peters, "The drug industry had a special friend in Governor Engler, and Governor Engler tried to export his success for the drug companies in Michigan to the national level where he currently works as a lobbyist for various manufacturing interests."

Peters also stated that he " ... hopes the Michigan legislature will act quickly to change Michigan's consumer hostile drug law in light of this new United States Supreme Court decision, to protect the health, safety and welfare of Michigan citizens."

    For more information contact:
    J. Douglas Peters, Esq.
    Charfoos & Christensen, P.C.
    5510 Woodward Avenue
    Detroit, Michigan  48202
    (313) 875-8080


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SOURCE Charfoos & Christensen, P.C.
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