Quaid: Preemption unfair to patients

Dennis Quaid added some star power--and colorful language--to a dry legal debate yesterday. Testifying before Congress, Quaid backed people's right to sue drugmakers, saying that FDA approval shouldn't automatically negate patient lawsuits. "If preemption of lawsuits is allowed to prevail, it will make all of us--the public--uninformed and uncompensated lab rats," he said.

You'll recall that Quaid and his wife sued Baxter after their twin infants were given an enormous overdose of heparin. The lawsuit alleges Baxter knew other babies had died as a result of improper labeling of the drug, had started making heparin with new labels, but failed to recall the older vials mistakenly given to the Quaid twins. Among Baxter's defenses is the FDA's approval of its product.

The Bush administration has been pushing preemption, saying that approval by FDA, a federal agency, should supersede any state-level claims. This fall the Supreme Court will consider the idea when it hears a case pitting a patient against Wyeth. A Congressional committee met yesterday to hear testimony about preemption; presumably, Congress could circumvent a Supreme Court ruling in favor of it by enacting a law specifically allowing the lawsuits.

- read the Los Angeles Times story
- see the article in the Wall Street Journal

ALSO: Currently the sole supplier of heparin for the U.S. market, APP Pharmaceuticals is increasing its prices because of tightening Chinese stocks of the drug's raw ingredient. Several suppliers there have been shut down in the wake of an investigation of contaminated lots of the drug. Report

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