The Supreme Court finally gave medical device makers their one true wish – Immunity from Lawsuits. Companies that produce medical devices like breast implants and implantable defibrillators now have federal protection against lawsuits arising from deaths or injuries associated with their products as long as the product has been approved for use by the FDA.
From the New York Times:
“Makers of medical devices like implantable defibrillators or breast implants are immune from liability for personal injuries as long as the Food and Drug Administration approved the device before it was marketed and it meets the agency’s specifications, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. The 8-to-1 decision was a victory for the Bush administration, which for years has sought broad authority to pre-empt tougher state regulation. In 2004, the administration reversed longstanding federal policy and began arguing that “premarket approval” of a new medical device by the F.D.A. overrides most claims for damages under state law. Because federal law makes no provision for damage suits against device makers, injured patients have turned to state law and have won substantial awards.“
This is an absolute outrage! First the phone companies get immunity from lawsuits in which they illegally tapped the phone lines of American citizens. Now companies like Medtronic get immunity as long as the device was approved by the FDA. You might think this is as far as the Bush Administration’s hand-picked Supreme Joke… I mean Supreme Court Justices would take it. You would be wrong. The Supreme Court has accepted another FDA case for its next term. This one is on whether the FDA’s approval of a drug, as opposed to a device, pre-empts personal injury suits. In other words, as long as a drug gained FDA approval, it won’t matter how many people have died or been injured by the drug – pharmaceutical companies will get off without having to pay a dime to the victims and suffering families of the deceased, who in many cases may have lost their primary bread-winner.
This is what the United States of America is coming to. Corporate lobbyists have “convinced” our government that the interests of Big Business are more important than the safety of the American people. It makes me sick.
When Americans talk about reforming the legal system to do away with “frivolous lawsuits” they mean throwing cases out of court in which someone is suing a restaurant chain for millions because they found a hair in their soup, or burnt their tongue on the hot coffee. But the Bush Administration has used this legitimate call for reform as an excuse to grant immunity to their corporate pals. After all, if they have do go to court for killing thousands of people they won’t be able to make it to the BBQ down at the Crawford Ranch on Tuesday.