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Lawsuit Abuse Threatens Quality HealthCare

Lawsuits targeting our healthcare system adversely affect everyone by limiting access and affordability to crucial services and prescriptions. Healthcare costs continue to increase dramatically - in direct proportion to the rise in unsubstantiated and frivolous lawsuits.

Limiting Women’s Access to Medicines - In 1991, after 20 years of research, Wyeth-Ayerst introduced Norplant, which provided long-term reversible contraception. After a deluge of liability suits based on unsubstantiated claims and more than five years of court battles, Wyeth voluntarily removed Norplant from the market in 2002. Throughout this period, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stood behind the safety of Norplant when used as directed and its departure was called “ a real loss for American women.” Family Practice News, October 1, 2002, No. 19, Vol. 32.

Scare Tactics Limit Healthcare Choices - Recently, two Texas doctors posted the following notice: "(Due to) recent advertisements by attorneys recruiting lawsuits for patients taking Vioxx or Celebrex, we will no longer be refilling prescriptions or writing new ones for those products. We regret that the threat of litigation has eliminated two medicines from our practice which have given many of you significant relief from your arthritic pain, but with the current legal climate which exists, we have no other choice." Athens Daily Review, "Lawsuits Have Docs Just Saying No to Drugs August 22, 2001.

Critically Ill or Injured Left Without Recourse - Lawyers who represent critically ill plaintiffs fear that healthy non-impaired plaintiffs seeking claims will drive so many defendants bankrupt that the genuinely sick and dying will have no recourse. In a recent Mississippi case, a jury returned a verdict of $150 million in compensatory damages in an asbestos claim against three defendant corporations, even though none of the plaintiffs claimed to have sustained any medical expenses or to have ever lost a day of work due to asbestos exposure; they were healthy. Four defense doctors testified that none of the plaintiffs suffered from any asbestos-related condition whatsoever, but the plaintiffs' doctor, a Jackson pulmonologist, disagreed. Time, "The $20 Billion Miscarriage of Justice" March 4, 2002.

Reversals of Fortune - Even though she admittedly had never been harmed by the heartburn drug Propulsid, Hazel Norton of Rolling Fork, Mississippi joined a mass action against its makers because she "thought she might get a couple of thousand dollars." When her doctor subsequently left the state in response to excessive litigation, Norton commented, "I'm kind of upset. I do not want him leaving because of all the suits. If we run off all the doctors, what are the people gonna do?" Clarion Ledger, "Tort Reform: Just What the Doctors Ordered?" July 29, 2002.

Lawsuit Abuse Makes Us Sick
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