The Right Focus on Tort ReformWritten by Richard Martin
The recent headlines about Merck's Vioxx withdrawal and FDA's move to ban ephedra have brought a lot of media attention to growing area of drug litigation. On April 12, 2004 FDA published a rule banning health supplements that contain ephedra alkaloids. The FDA concluded that limited short term weight loss effects were outweighed by possible heart problems and stroke risks. The market gap caused by banning of ephedra has been filled by many new companies that are marketing products similar to ephedra. However, these “ephedra alternatives” may not be any safer than banned ephedra that they replace. The FDA's ephedra ban, and Merck's Vioxx withdrawal have been hot news topics. These drug recalls and ephedra banning have brought lawsuits from many different angles. Obviously, some people think that some of lawsuits will be frivolous. In fact, there has been a lot of news during last decade about “frivolous lawsuits” brought by injured consumers against large companies for defective products. However, according to one report from Public Citizen (http://www.citizen.org/congress/civjus/tort/myths/articles.cfm?ID=12369 ), businesses file many more times amount of lawsuits than consumers do and are more likely to be sanctioned by a court for bringing a frivolous claim.
The New Drug Recall LawyersWritten by Richard Martin
Given monstrous size and profitability of drug companies, some plaintiff lawyers are considering focusing more of their practice on drug litigation. In fact, shortly after Merck's announcement of Vioxx recall, some large plaintiff firms started aggressive media campaigns aimed at bringing in prescription drug injury victims. The media blitz has been non stop. Billboards, TV, web marketing, radio, and direct mail are just some of marketing vehicles that attorneys have used to try and find new cases for them to work on. Many plaintiff law firms are no longer focusing on chasing run of mill car accidents. Some of them have gone so far as to reposition themselves as “drug recall lawyers,” seeing that future of their practice may be shaped by initial outcome of these new pharmaceutical cases. When Merck chose to withdraw Vioxx, CEO stated that a voluntary recall was responsible course of action. Prior to pulling Vioxx from market, Merck was spending $500 Million per year on advertising Vioxx. Vioxx is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID. However, Vioxx belongs to a new family of NSAIDs called “COX-2 inhibitors.” There are not many COX-2 inhibitors on market in US: Bextra and Celebrex may be only other two.