By Shane Ellison, The People’s Chemist
It’s not easy to sue Big Pharma. But, legal firm Baum Hedlund has been doing it for years. Unfortunately, as pharmaceutical deceit and side-effects grow, it’s getting exponentially more difficult. After all, using prescription drugs as prescribed is the top killer in the USA.
I reached out to attorney Michael Baum to get a behind-the-scenes look at how this growing monster is shielded from liability by our court system. Baum generously agreed to share his candid insights. If you or a loved one are taking prescription meds — make sure you read this interview closely.
Michael L. Baum
TPC #1: Does the court system protect the pharmaceutical industry from liability? If so, how?
Mr. Baum: Yes. The court system has made it very expensive for claims to be made against pharmaceutical companies for injuries. For instance, drug lawsuits require expert testimony from a person with a related PhD and/or MD level education. Otherwise, the case may be thrown out before going to trial.
This makes suing drug companies pricey because the experts charge high hourly rates to offset the “cost” of going up against the same entities that pay for grants, lucrative industry jobs and coveted academic positions.
Furthermore, many judges now have gate-keeping authority to reject cutting-edge science that goes against the status-quo — what the rest of the scientific community “believes.” Drug companies are able to foster “established beliefs” with hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing aimed at physicians, medical journals, academic opinion leaders, and professional organizations of scientists. Once those marketed messages become pervasive, use of the drug becomes the standard of care. So overcoming that impression is like convincing a court the emperor is not wearing new clothes, which can be very difficult.
TPC #2: What are the ramifications of this conflict, on the average U.S. citizen?
Mr. Baum: The expense itself can make bringing an individual case prohibitive. We now have to combine cases to spread the cost. Unfortunately, courts (and legislative actions) have whittled away using these class actions for drug injuries. They now say that each person’s damage is unique and not common across a class, even if they suffer the same injury, e.g. a heart attack.
Combining many claimants into lawsuits is still possible, but it requires enough similarly injured people to justify a consolidated action. Finding lawyers qualified and willing to take on the detailed investigation and pay out the expense of engaging experts is itself a big hurdle. Drug companies can afford to make lawsuits long and difficult, so financing such litigation with qualified, available lawyers can be a barrier to an average U.S. citizen pursuing a drug case.
There’s also the pill-popping culture that causes an additional barrier. Many injuries occur after a person has been prescribed a number of drugs. Separating out one drug’s effect from another adds another level of complication. Thus, many law firms and courts will reject cases unless it is clear that the likely culprit is one particular drug.
TPC #3: If a drug has been proven ineffective and dangerous in a court of law, why is it still on the market? Continue reading