National Consumer Group Releases Study Critiquing Wisconsin Drug Immunity Bill

Monday, October 24, 2011

For Release:
October 24, 2011

Contact: Jocelyn Bogdan, Joanne Doroshow


Michigan Experience Shows Workers,
Taxpayers and Victims Have All Been Hurt

The Center for Justice & Democracy released a new White Paper today, “Repeating a Tragic Blunder,” severely criticizing Wisconsin’s proposed legislation to limit liability for drug and medical device companies that market unsafe products.  This legislation would leave Wisconsin resident’s without any legal recourse should they be harmed by defective devices or drugs.  These legal rights exist for residents in 48 other states.  “Repeating a Tragic Blunder” references a study produced in 2008 about a similar law in Michigan, the only state in the nation with a drug immunity law, although the Wisconsin bill is broader, extending to medical device manufacturers as well. 

According to the Center for Justice and Democracy’s Associate Director, Jocelyn Bogdan, “This legislation would be devastating to Wisconsin residents.  It would prevent them from seeking compensation for real injuries, no matter how severe, caused by dangerous drugs and devices.  And it would leave drug and device companies completely off the hook for marketing products that harm or even kill, once the under-resourced FDA has approved them.”

Said Bogdan, “The U.S. Supreme Court itself has said that drug industry immunity is bad public policy, noting in the 2009 case Wyeth v Levine  that lawsuits add an important layer of protection for consumers.  The FDA has limited resources when it comes to monitoring the 11,000 drugs on the market, said the Court, and lawsuits are important not only to compensate victims but also to help uncover drug hazards and provide incentives for drug manufacturers to disclose safety risks promptly.

“Despite this, and despite the terrible impact of Michigan’s drug immunity law on victims and taxpayers in that state, Wisconsin may be headed in the same direction, stripping away residents’ access to the civil justice system and granting negligent companies extensive immunity.  This is terrible legislation and it should be stopped.”

A full copy of the report can be found here: White Paper: Reating a Tragic Blunder: Wisconsin's Drug and Device Immunity Bill

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