Monday, April 20, 2009

Bishop Admits That He Will Continue Obstruction on Drug Company Immunity Bills

Looks like this one goes on the back-burner until we can take back the Senate in 2010. Mike Bishop will not address this issue, facts and budget and people who have been hurt by medication be damned. The GR Press today takes a look at one lady who wants to sue Ortho-McNeil-Jansen Pharmaceuticals after she learned on the internet that the company had been forced to issue a "black box warning" for side-effects from their anti-biotic Levaquin, which had been given to her after her knee surgery. She had no idea that the drug carried a higher risk of joint pain and ruptured tendons for patients over 60 - and neither did anyone else apparently, until the group Public Citizen sued the USDA to require the company carry the warning. In pain, she turned to the law for help.

The kicker here? She is someone that believes in the "frivolous lawsuits" Republican talking point designed to take out the trial lawyers.

She talked to a lawyer about suing the drug maker, Ortho-McNeil-Jansen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, but was told a 1996 Michigan law prohibited it unless she could prove the company had committed fraud, bribery or withheld information from the FDA.

"Frivolous lawsuits have ruined this country," said Luckhurst, a self-described Republican leaning toward Libertarian. "This isn't frivolous."

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said Michigan's immunity law is the most restrictive in the nation.

"Anyone who sees there is no other state with a law like Michigan's must conclude either all the other 49 states are wrong or Michigan is wrong," he said. "I think it's the latter."

Cue the obstruction, and this time it comes directly from the obstructor himself.

"There are some things I have to be a stopper for," he said. "I don't have any intention of taking this issue up."

Just the kind of talk you want to hear from a potential candidate for Attorney General, isn't it? If he won't consider this as a legislator based on his partisan leanings, how can you trust him in higher office to protect the citizens of Michigan?

And - would the Senate Majority Leader care to list the other "things" that "he has to be a stopper for"? We can take a pretty good guess based on experience, but it might be nice if Bishop would just provide those "things" upfront so we know what to put on the ballot proposal. In the interest of saving time and all.

Bishop admits it's all about the trial lawyers.

The effort to repeal the immunity law "is pure politics of the worst kind," Bishop charged, adding that trial lawyers have "commandeered the Democratic Party."

Since one-third of the House Republicans voted to repeal the law when it came around in '07, must be they have infiltrated the GOP as well. Pretty obvious who is playing "politics" here - it's the guy who keeps repeating the blatantly partisan talking point.

The Senate Dems released an interesting statement from Gretchen Whitmer last week; a repeal of our one-of-a-kind law would help our budget deficit and also bring relief to business and insurance companies who currently have to pick up the tab from the damage these drugs create.

Evidence provided to the House of Representatives before they passed their version of the repeal estimates the cost to Michigan for medical care, Medicaid reimbursement, and liability for overcharges for later-recalled drugs reach into in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Texas and New York, both states also dealing with severe budget shortfalls, were allowed to pursue drug makers to reimburse taxpayers for Medicaid costs of fraud and overpricing.

Because the drug industry immunity law prohibits recovery from the makers of deadly drugs, Michigan businesses like local insurance carriers, and local governments such as self-insured municipalities as well as the state are forced to incur those losses instead. All 49 other states and their local insurance carriers and local governments are free to collect reimbursements from the makers of drugs that injure and kill.

To sum it up, Mike Bishop doesn't care that Michigan citizens suffer, and wants the taxpayers to foot the bill for it, too.

What a guy.