Contending that they have been harmed by prescription drugs, a group of Michigan residents is pushing to repeal the state law that prevents them from suing pharmaceutical companies. 

The group, called Drug Industry Immunity Must End, plans to travel around the state to drum up support.

Michigan is the only state that protects drug companies from lawsuits if the drugs in question were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Joan Girard of Burton, a member of the coalition, worked for General Motors Corp. in Lansing until several strokes forced her to retire. She said she has lost her short-term memory and some of her vision and suffers other ailments she believes were triggered by the painkiller Vioxx.

“I’ve lost my livelihood,” said Girard, 56.

The state’s 1996 law has come under scrutiny and criticism since Vioxx and other popular drugs have been pulled from the market because of health risks. Merck & Co. discontinued Vioxx last fall because of heart attack risks.

House Democrats said they will push to repeal the law by introducing legislation soon. The legislation would be retroactive.

But Republicans control the Legislature, and they want to make sure any changes strike a balance of protecting the Michigan economy and health care providers as well as protecting people if they are victims of unethical practices by drug companies, said Matt Resch, spokesman for House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi.

“We are going to keep an open mind at this point and see if changes need to be made,” he said.

Rich Studley of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce said Michigan’s current law permits lawsuits if companies have improperly influenced the FDA or acted to mislead consumers.

“Every medicine, even over-the-counter medicines, has risks and benefits,” he said. “As adults, consumers need to understand and accept that.”

Studley, said the law was designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits and that efforts to make a repeal retroactive are an attempt to open the floodgates and enrich trial lawyers.

But an organizer for the coalition said the group was trying to put Michigan back in line with other states. The group has 15 to 20 members and plans to recruit members across the state.

“Pharmaceutical companies are making billions on harmful drugs that have left people with overwhelming medical bills, lifelong disabilities and shattered lives,” said Linda Teeter, executive director of Michigan Citizen Action.



We're here to help!

We live by our creed of "helping those who need it most" and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.

Fields marked    may be required for submission.
  1. I'm an attorney

Merck to pay $830 million to settle investors’ Vioxx...

Merck announced Friday it will pay $830 million to settle investor complaints accusing it of committing...

Merck to pay nearly $1 billion for illegal marketing...

American pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme has agreed to pay $950 million to resolve criminal...

Merck paying more than 3,100 vioxx death claims

Merck & Co. is paying claims by the families of more than 3,100 users of its Vioxx painkiller who...

Settlement limits insurers' claims in Vioxx deal

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Former Vioxx users getting part of a $4.85 billion settlement ending most personal...

Persistence pays in Vioxx litigation

Plaintiffs get close to $5B, but Merck could have done a lot worse. Attorneys who spent nearly one year...

Vioxx settlement payments to begin in August

Merck & Co., manufacturer of Vioxx, announced it will make the first payment of $500 million on Aug....

Impressed with the Beasley Allen staff

I am very impressed with the Beasley Allen staff. They were very courteous and patiently explained the aspects of my claim in a way I could understand. If I ever have any need of an attorney in the future I will turn to Beasley Allen.

—Philip