Two-Faced on Drugs that Kill

Two-Faced on Drugs that Kill

Back in Fall of 2012, Michigan experienced a deadly outbreak of meningitis.  Attorney General Bill Schuette’s decision yesterday to request a multi-county grand jury to investigate whether the corporation responsible for the harm broke state law is necessary, but dodges the larger question about why Bill Schuette has worked so hard to nearly eliminate protections for Michiganders when they are harmed or killed by prescription drugs used for their intended purposes.

The 2012 outbreak was ultimately traced to a tainted steroid injection distributed by the New England Compounding Center (NECC).  People around the United States were infected, but to date the disease hit Michigan the hardest.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 259 people were infected and 14 people have died.

Despite his attempts to make up lost ground, Schuette starts with a notorious record on standing up for Michigan citizens harmed or killed by pharmaceutical products.  Today, Michigan is the first and only state to pass a law giving drug companies complete immunitywhen their drugs harm or kill Michigan citizens.  A primary sponsor of the bill in 1995?  Then-Senator Bill Schuette.  As long as the product is FDA-approved, the person harmed (or their family, if that person is killed) has no means of redress under Schuette’s law.

As Attorney General, Bill Schuette continues to support the law, despite the fact that in 2011 the citizens of Michigan, through their Attorney General, lost out on a $20 million recoverythey were set to receive from the makers of the drug, Vioxx. While many other states received enormous settlements to recover lost funds from their state Medicaid programs, Schuette lost every dollar for Michigan taxpayers because of the law he passed as a state senator.

As it turns out, Schuette’s drug immunity law does not bar recovery to the victims of the recent meningitis outbreak because the FDA did not regulate the injections responsible for the harm.  And yet had the FDA regulated the product — as Schuette now suggests they should — the victims would be out of luck.

What would an AGforUs do?  The answer is obvious:  the only solution is to repeal Schuette’s drug immunity law.

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