“German Drug Company to Pay $650 Million to Settle Blood Thinner Lawsuits”

It’s impossible to keep track of the millions of lawsuits filed in the U.S. every year. I just saw this, from the New York Times: German Drug Company to Pay $650 Million to Settle Blood Thinner Lawsuits – NYTimes.com.

I read the first paragraphs and shuddered:

The German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to pay $650 million to settle thousands of lawsuits involving its blood thinner Pradaxa, the company said Wednesday.

The settlement will most likely resolve most of the 4,000 cases in state and federal courts filed by patients and their families who claimed that Boehringer failed to properly warn them that the drug, which is used to prevent blood clots, caused serious and sometimes fatal bleeding that could not easily be reversed. The first case was set to go to trial in September. [My bolding]

In a statement, the company said that it stood behind the safety and efficacy of Pradaxa and continued to believe that the lawsuits lacked merit, but that settling the case allowed the company to move on. “Time and again, the benefits and safety of Pradaxa have been confirmed,” said Desiree Ralls-Morrison, senior vice president and general counsel of Boehringer Ingelheim USA. [Aren’t you thrilled that the company has decided to “move on”? Over dead bodies, but they didn’t say that, did they?]

Ned McWilliams, a lawyer in Pensacola, Fla., who represented some plaintiffs, said he was pleased with the agreement. “We believed from the very beginning that the company had no defense to the claims in this case,” he said. “The fact that Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to compensate thousands of victims hundreds of millions of dollars prior to expert disclosure or trial is telling in this regard.”

Members of my family take blood thinners, not necessarily Pradaxa, but the idea that a major drug company pushes a product that can kill its “customers,” without providing adequate warnings is so damn alarming.

(By the way, as I read the Times article here, I was having an extended moment of déja vu: I just finished a fast-food John Grisham novel, The Litigators, the plot of which tracks this story almost exactly, even down to the Florida lawyers who represent some plaintiffs. You’ll have to read it to learn how it turned out for Grisham’s plaintiffs.)

Of course, this is what the Federal Drug Administration is supposed to be governing. Or so I thought.

Trouble is, the FDA is a government agency (a clue can be teased out of the word “Federal”) − a vital government agency, to be sure, but that doesn’t matter to the so-called libertarians, who think government and its regulations get in everybody’s way. Naturally, the so-called libertarians who propound such nonsense are the same people who produce and get rich off products that demand governmental agency oversight.

I keep reading about all these bad things that have been going on with the V.A. and other governmental agencies. And I keep thinking, “Hey people, this is what happens when you elect politicians who vow to cut your taxes. You cheer, you vote, they cut, and bad things happen.”

There is no money in the till to fully staff the agencies that protect us from the sociopathy of big business. So this morning I began to calculate how much more I’d personally pay in taxes if government was fully financed. Another, what, thousand a year? Probably less. I’m willing. Are you?

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