Activists Fight to Repeal Michigan's Drug Industry Immunity Law

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There are nearly 500 lawsuits filed in other states against the drug-maker Merck for damages claimed to be caused by the controversial arthritis drug Vioxx.

Consumers in Michigan will have a much tougher time filing a lawsuit against Merck due to a law enacted in 1996. It prevents people from suing drug makers for claims of damages caused by a drug that has been approved by the FDA.

Monday, a group of consumers met at the Capital to form a coalition to abolish this law. Many of these consumers say Vioxx caused problems such as heart disease, stroke, or clots. They think drug-makers should held accountable if someone is hurt by their drug.

As the law stands now, plaintiffs would have to prove the drug-maker knew of adverse effects and mislead the FDA, in order to win damages.

Supporters of the law say it helps prevent frivolous lawsuits so companies can continue to spend money on research and development. They also say the FDA approval process is both stringent and adequate.

New legislation to change the 1996 law is expected to be introduced in the Michigan House this week.