Letter to the Editor: Drug safety needs court involvement

Florida Sun-Sentinel
Friday, December 19, 2008

To the editor:

Joel White's op-ed, "Jurors shouldn't be practicing medicine" (Dec. 7, 2008), regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of a ruling awarding a Vermont woman $6.8 million in a drug safety case, is premised on the notion that federal officials should have the absolute authority to determine whether American pharmaceuticals are safe.

Yet as officials at the Food and Drug Administration themselves acknowledge, they can't possibly ensure that every drug that enters the marketplace is safe. Even the editors of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine have supported litigation in this area as providing a crucial complement to FDA regulation, helping to force unsafe drugs off the market and bringing lifesaving, and otherwise inaccessible, information about hazardous drugs to light.

In the end, what White is really advocating is total immunity for drug companies that hurt people — a view as dangerous as it is out of touch.

Attorney and policy analyst
Center for Justice & Democracy
New York, NY

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