Two New Health Bills in Congress Grants Big Pharma Tremendous Power

The days of activists like Erin Brockovich fighting big energy industry companies like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will be over if 2 big bills in Congress are approved by legislators. Seeking justice and compensation for complaints and injuries done to you by pharmaceutical drugs will be an almost insurmountable task. This is due to the passing of House of Representatives (H.R.) Bill 985, the “2017 Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act”, and H.R. 1215, the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017”.

Currently, when a pharmaceutical drug company causes you cancer and there is no sufficient warning on the label that it causes cancer, then that’s the condition by which you can sue the company. But, you can only sue  them for failing to warn you about the potential cancer risk.

Fairness in Class Action Litigations?

Now, this is the trickiest situation by which you can ever find yourself – you can only sue the company AFTER they change the label, indicating the hazards of the drug and its propensity to cause cancer. Which means it is almost impossible for the complainant to sue Big Pharma prior to a label change.

Moreover, it is almost an impossibility to sue and take a generic drug manufacturer to court. That is because, under current laws, you can’t sue a generic drug manufacturer. Therefore, the law is obviously one-sided.

H.R. Bill 985

Now comes H.R. Bill 985, the “2017 Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act”, the first of 2 house bills that are meant to further quash the rights to justice and fair play of patients and drug users.

There is one provision under H.R. Bill 985 that is so obviously “pro-manufacturer” than “pro-patient”. That provision states that in the case of a class-action lawsuit, the lawsuit must state that every plaintiff in the suit must demonstrate that all “suffered the same type and scope of injury as the named class representative”. Which is completely ridiculous because every complainant has a specific complaint or case but will be similar to the rest of those included in the class-action suit.

An example of this case is a class-action suit against antibiotic drugs Avelox, Levaquin, and Cipro. These were determined to cause permanent peripheral neuropathy as a side-effect. Hence, permanent peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to certain nerves that are away from the brain and spinal cord (Chemotherapy induces sometimes this disease).

Now the side effects vary – from numbness, twitching muscles, decreased coordination or balance and even digestive dysfunction. If all these different complainants had each a different complaint but are an offshoot of the 3 drugs, the class-action suit will not be valid.

Finding Class-Action Suit Lawyers

Now, about the lawyers that take on class-action suits – it is found that less of these lawyers are inclined to take on anti-big pharma cases. Why? Because it is highly unlikely that a lawyer would like to represent you. Unless, you can pay their hourly fees.

Normally, class-action suit lawyers will strike a contingency contract with clients.  Thus, once they win the case, the client will give them a portion of the win. Well, this was demonstrated quite effectively in the movie “Erin Brockovich”. Wherein, her legal firm got a portion of the financial damages after they won the suit. H.R. 985 will definitely make it difficult and restrict negotiated contracts.

H.R. Bill 1215

On the other hand, H.R. 1215, the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017” unfortunately takes away the rights of victims harmed by medical professionals. It certainly provides provisions that are more “pro-manufacturer”. Some of these provisions include protecting medical professionals who prescribe dangerous drugs or hurt patients with dangerous medical devices, denying the right to trial by jury, prescribing stringent time limits on lawsuits, and putting a cap on damages to about US$250k (this includes states that already declared this practice as unlawful).

Why the pro-big pharma provisions in Congress?

Because most big pharma are supporting legislators like Republican representative Bob Goodlatte from Virginia. Just a sample of what kind of funding he got from different industries: almost $1.5 million from the finance, insurance, and real estate sector; $2.1 million from agribusiness, more than $670,000 from the health sector (which includes pharmaceutical companies), 1.3 million from miscellaneous business interests (source: Federal Election Commission on Monday, released September 11, 2017).

We need to come together to fight against injustice and an “honest and fair” airing of medical grievances against pharmaceutical companies. We need to bring the truth out!

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