"[T]he Vioxx case is plenty more complicated than [Vioxx lawyer Mark] Lanier lets on, and unfortunately for all of us, its impact will be felt by far more people than the 7,000 Merck employees who will soon lose their jobs &. [Y]ou can't underestimate the impact such a big liability will have on the company. Developing new drugs is a costly business, and all those legal bills will certainly eat into the firm's R&D budget &. [E]ven if Merck manages to win half of the cases it now faces, analysts say its price tag will still be enormous, forcing even more cost cutting (read: job cuts)."

- Charles Gasparino, Newsweek, November 30, 2005

Doctor of the Year?

"The American Public Health Association plans to hand out its 'oldest and most prestigious award,' the Sedgwick Memorial Medal, to one Barry S. Levy. We don't doubt the association means well, but we also can't help but point out that Dr. Levy deserves much more public health attention as one of nine physicians who are at the center of a growing scandal over silicosis and asbestos diagnoses." Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2005 Read More >>

Lawsuit Fears Blocking Needed Medicines

"These are turbulent times for the pharmaceutical industry and for its regulator, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Lately, both have focused increasingly on issues of safety &. Regulators' increasing sensitivity to safety concerns may have become contagious: Drug manufacturers, too, seem to have begun to 'err on the side of safety' to a degree that causes safe and effective drugs to be taken off the market voluntarily." Commentary by Henry Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune, December 9, 2005 Read More >>

Taking a Stand on Expert Witnesses

"The American Academy of Neurology has revamped its guidelines on expert witnesses to try to make sure that neurologists in the courtroom are as expert as they claim &. 'The sorts of problems that we have seen are persons offering testimony who probably didn't have adequate qualifications to testify &. There have been neurologists offering testimony that as far as we could tell, in reviewing their testimony and the science, that had virtually no basis in science,' said Michael A. Williams, M.D., of Johns Hopkins, who was lead author of the new academy guidelines for physician expert witnesses." MedPage Today, December 8, 2005 Read More >>

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse Chairman John Merchant highlighted the impact of abusive litigation on this year's flu vaccine shortage and higher healthcare costs overall in a commentary published in the San Jose Business Journal. Merchant wrote: "Lawsuits filed by lawyers trying to get rich from pharmaceutical companies have caused many companies to exit the business. The health care problems we can credit to personal injury lawyers aren't just limited to vaccines. Our entire health-care system is plagued with lawsuit abuse that ultimately puts health care out of reach for some, and raises health-care costs for all &. How in the world can quality health care be assured in such an environment?" Read the full commentary >>

The Stats

4,202: Number of silicosis claims recently removed from a Mississippi court after a federal judge from Texas found questionable diagnoses and lack of injury in those cases and others previously dismissed. Jackson Clarion Ledger, December 15, 2005

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