Drug Wars: Payback Time
Trial Lawyers Now Take Aim at Drug Makers
By Alex Berenson, New York Times, Sunday, 18 May 2003
Enriched and emboldened after successful fights against asbestos and tobacco companies, some of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ lawyers have trained their sights on drug makers, claiming that many giant pharmaceutical companies have hidden the dangers of medicines the lawyers say have harmed thousands of people.
In some cases the drugs at issue have already been pulled off the market, like Rezulin, a diabetes treatment from Pfizer that the Food and Drug Administration has linked to liver damage and is the target of almost 9,000 suits. Other suits name some of the industry’s current best sellers, including Paxil, an antidepressant that plaintiffs contend is addictive — a claim denied by the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline.
In some instances, teams of plaintiffs’ lawyers are spending several million dollars preparing cases for trial, in the hopes of winning billions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts from the drug companies, which have some of the deepest pockets among American corporations.