Michigan Drug Lawsuit Legislation Aimed at Repealing Unique State Law Sparks Debate

A 1996 Michigan law making it more difficult for people to file product liability lawsuits against manufacturers of defective drugs is being challenged by House bills that have prompted a divisive debate in the Wolverine State.

Michigan has a unique law which makes it especially hard for people to sue for damage and personal injury sustained from side effects of prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to recent news reports, this law has sparked a debate between Democrats who want to see more consumer-friendly drug lawsuit legislation and Republicans who want to strengthen the law for Michigan-based drug companies.

Specifically House Bills 4044, 4045 and 4056 would work together to eliminate the current ban on product liability lawsuits pertaining to FDA-approved prescription drugs. These three pieces of Michigan drug lawsuit legislation would also create a three-year window for people to file personal injury claims for injuries attributed to FDA-approved drugs during the time of the ban's existence. According to an online Grand Haven Tribune story, this type of retroactive legislation could have a serious impact on Merck and Co., which has said that it's been hit with more than 27,000 lawsuits in other states for its withdrawn Vioxx drug.

The House Judiciary Committee recently voted to send these bills to the full House for consideration, which could take place sometime this month according to this story. While these Michigan drug lawsuit bills are expected to get serious consideration in the Democratically-controlled House, the story said that they may have a much cooler reception in the Republican-controlled Senate.

In fact, a recent WLSN.com 6 News story detailed that senators are opposed to these Michigan drug lawsuit bills and may even try to change them to exempt state drug companies and limit the amount of money personal injury attorneys could make on these lawsuits!

Examining the Debate Surrounding These Michigan Drug Lawsuit Bills

The Grand Haven Tribune story juxtaposed the favor and opposition to these Michigan drug lawsuit bills through the experiences of two women, and ultimately revealed the intricate details of this debate.

Lansing resident Vicki Chamberlain said in the story that she used the aforementioned Vioxx to treat her arthritis. Chamberlain added that she believed the drug caused her to have a stroke which eventually forced her to retire early from her job at General Motors and put her family in financial trouble.

Chamberlain can be safely placed in the group favoring these three pieces of Michigan drug lawsuit legislation. Specifically, proponents of these bills felt that the current Michigan law places false hope in the FDA being able to protect consumers who already have no recourse in the state courts.

On the other hand, Kim Babinski of Brooklyn, Michigan can be placed in the camp that believes a change to the law would be a bad thing. Like Chamberlain, Babinski spoke in front of the recent House Judiciary Committee on these bills. Babinski rather said that various prescription drugs have helped her fight complications from diabetes and ultimately lead a healthy life. Babinski was specifically quoted as saying that she feared repealing the current Michigan law would dissuade drug companies to do more research out of fear of being sued.

Opponents of these Michigan drug lawsuit bills echo Babinski's sentiment and worry that repealing the current law would lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits. According to the Grand Haven Tribune story, pharmaceutical companies have said that the current Michigan law does not provide them with absolute immunity from lawsuits. They argue that people can first sue through the FDA. A drug company could later be sued if it was shown to be misleading or deceptive while the drug was being approved.

Proponents to these pieces of Michigan drug lawsuit legislation refute this argument by saying that consumers do not have the time or monetary resources to proceed with this drawn-out course of litigation. Proponents also challenged another argument claiming that Michigan's ability to attract and retain jobs would be negatively affected by repealing this current law. They say the current drug law is clearly not doing its job as the recent Pfizer announcement to cut more than 2,000 jobs in the state reveals.

Stay Updated on the Latest Developments with these Michigan Drug Lawsuit Bills

Be sure to frequently visit this site and The Injury Blog for the latest developments with these Michigan drug lawsuit bills in the state House. And if you have suffered a personal injury at the expense of someone else's negligence in Michigan or another state, be sure to fill out our free personal injury case evaluation form as soon as possible.


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