You might be happy to know that the FDA just approved Teva's new antipsychotic drug called Olanzapine, otherwise known as the generic Zyprexa. Let’s just hope the FDA knows what it’s doing. Zyprexa, you may know, has serious side-effects that can lead to diabetes and its manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has been sued by tens of thousands of ill Zyprexa users, telling salespeople to downplay these side effects. You can read more about this in the Center for Justice & Democracy’s new study, Repeating a Tragic Blunder, about a disastrous drug and medical device immunity bill now being considered in Wisconsin. (Read more here.)
Actually, if you live in Wisconsin or Michigan for that matter, you had really better hope the FDA knows what it’s doing. As the CJ&D study explains, Michigan's law – and the Wisconsin bill – would completely immunize drug companies like Teva (not to mention Eli Lilly) for marketing unsafe government-approved drugs that kill or injure patients.
It’s not like there isn’t reason to be very concerned about a company like Teva. As Bloomberg reports, Nevada juries have recently imposed punitive damages three times against Teva and two other drug companies for selling the anesthetic Propofol to doctors in bottles so large that they needed to be reused, leading colonoscopy patients to develop Hepatitis C, which can be lethal. (Yes, THAT Propofol. Between this and what we’re learning about Propofol in the Michael Jackson case, like MJ’s nurse who just testified “nobody who cares or has your best interests at heart will give you Propofol,” it’s hard to imagine a more maligned drug in the news right now!)
When Michigan passed its drug immunity law in the 1990s, the drug companies immediately skipped town and all those promised jobs were lost. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry has had a “get out of jail free” card there ever since while sick and injured patients are kicked to the curb. Beats us as to why anyone would support such a thing.
Unless, of course, you happen to be a venture capitalist who, as the New York Times reports today, is dumping boatloads of money on politicians with the goal of weakening FDA regulation even further. Writes the Times,
As Congress considers reauthorizing a law that sets the fees for medical device makers, venture capitalists are emerging as a rich and influential ally of device companies eager to remove what they say are regulatory roadblocks in the approval process. The push has alarmed patient advocates and some doctors, who have been calling on the F.D.A. to intensify its oversight of devices, particularly in light of some all-metal artificial hips that are failing prematurely at an unusually high rate.
“They have this unwritten assumption that every new device is innovative,” Dr. Rita Redberg, who is the editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine, said, referring to the venture capital funds. But some devices, she said, “are killing people or causing significant harm.”
What a time to be throwing immunity into the mix.