Governor’s tort reform off base

By Beth Malone

Special to The Telegraph

One of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s top three priorities for 2009 is to give drug makers immunity from lawsuits filed by consumers.

Legal immunity would let them off the hook for marketing unsafe drugs and shield them from accountability when their drugs hurt or kill patients.

Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan of the Pacific Research Institute recently wrote that immunity for Big Pharma will create Georgia jobs. However, the fact remains that only one other state in the nation has passed similar legislation — Michigan. There is no evidence this policy helped boost Michigan’s struggling economy and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest it will help Georgia’s economy.

Michigan unemployment rates are the highest in the nation. In fact, since the 1995 passing of the bill, many pharmaceutical companies have actually moved out of the state, according to Michigan Sen. John Gleason.

It should also be known that the Pacific Research Institute is funded by Pfizer, Wyeth and other members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the largest drug company lobby in the world.

From the consumer’s perspective, what’s really frightening about Perdue’s immunity idea is the industry’s terrible track record. For example, FDA-approved Vioxx, fen-phen and Bextra were recalled after thousands of patient injuries — hardly a frivolous matter, most would agree.

No justice and no jobs. Where is the benefit for Georgians?

Beth Malone is the communications director for Georgia Watch, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy group.