How Drug Industry Immunity Would Endanger Women

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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A new report released today by the national consumer rights group Center for Justice & Democracy finds that many of this country's dangerous government-approved drugs and devices have been marketed specifically for women. Many of these products were removed or made safer only after women filed lawsuits.

The release of the report, THE BITTEREST PILL -- How Drug Companies Fail To Protect Women and How Lawsuits Save Their Lives, comes less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in Wyeth v. Levine, widely considered to be one of the court's most important decisions this term. The Court will hear arguments on November 3 whether to afford the drug industry unprecedented legal immunity for causing injuries or death, despite negligent or irresponsible behavior.

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"This report tells the story of the hyped marketing to women of a disproportionate number of unsafe drugs and devices resulting in countless deaths and injuries," said report co-author Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy. "Many times, these dangers were only known, or in some cases products pulled from the market, after women and their families filed lawsuits. The lives of countless other women were saved. Blanket immunity for drug companies would be devastating for women."

"Women have been hurt many times over the years by FDA-approved drugs, whether because drug companies withheld information and lied about health risks, or because the FDA has lacked the resources or political will to keep dangerous products off the market," said Cynthia Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women's Health Network. "This report from Center for Justice & Democracy documents the devastating consequences of these regulatory failures and shows how women who have been hurt by unsafe drugs have used lawsuits to bring critical information to light, protecting other women from suffering similar harm."

THE BITTEREST PILL examines the history of a variety of products including many types of birth control methods and hormone therapies, as well as lactation and acne drugs. Said report co-author Amanda Melpolder, "As new drugs and devices are developed and marketed, it is imperative that women have the safest and most effective products available. That means making sure corporations are held legally accountable for causing injuries."

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