Upcoming Case Could Bar Public From Taking Drug Makers to Court
For more than a century, the regulation of U.S. food and drugs has seen its share of challenges — from the filthy slaughterhouses of Upton Sinclair’s Chicago to the tainted Chinese-made blood thinner that recently killed at least 19 people. The regulatory shortcomings on display in 1937, when ethylene glycol killed 105 antibiotic consumers, were still glaring six decades later, when Vioxx users started having heart attacks.
But throughout the history of the Food and Drug Administration, and its precursor agencies, U.S. consumers could always bring the manufacturer of a faulty product to court. Now, with the FDA woefully underfunded in its key role of assuring the safety and effectiveness of foods and drugs, and with political ideologues in the agency pushing industry prerogatives, the White House and the courts may be on the verge of stripping Americans of the right to sue. This would take away the last option for those seeking protection from –or recourse for — faulty products.