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Tim Smith
Tim Smith
Attorney • 231-946-0700

Senator Kuipers Protecting Drug Company Donors

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Merck, the makers of Vioxx, got caught defrauding the FDA and the folks that they injured with their drug and agreed to pay $4.85 billion dollars in damages. But, none of the victims in Michigan will get paid a penny because we’re the only state in the country that provides blanket immunity to drug manufacturors whose products injure or kill. This legislative immunity was enacted in 1995 and our House of Representatives recognized the danger to Michigan citizens and passed a bill to correct this problem in February of this year. The problem is that when it was passed to the Senate for approval, Senator Kuipers and others like him made sure the solution to the problem never sees the light of day. He is already on the record saying he will not let the fix proposed by the House of Representatives get a vote.

His reasoning? “It’s approved by the FDA”, states Kuipers……. What he didn’t tell Michigan Radio News listeners on 12/11/07 is that Merck didn’t disclose to the FDA when they applied for approval that their own trials killed at least 3 people and injured a number of others. Kuipers knows that Merck obtained FDA approval by fraud and the fact that he is keeping this information from Michigan News Radio listeners is even more fraudulent.

If they had “FDA approval”, as stated by Kuipers, why did Merck have to enter into a settlement totalling nearly Five Billion Dollars? Because they knew their product damaged the heart and cardio system of those that took Vioxx, but they put profits ahead of people and hid this information from the FDA and buried the informationfrom the people who took it….. the same way Senator Kuipers has buried the legislative fix to the drug immunity problem that is keeping his constituents and Michigans citizens from being compensated for the damages intentionally caused by Merck.

I don’t know what is more reprehensible, Kuipers protecting his large corporate donors by burying legislation that they don’t want passed or Merck protecting it’s profits by burying scientific information that Vioxx was dangerous.

Dr. Eric J. Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and Scripps’ chief academic officer, was one of the experts who first exposed the problems with Vioxx. He said he doesn’t have a problem with cox-2 inhibitors, but he does take issue with Merck’s response to emerging data about heart risks.

Topol claims Merck hid evidence about the risk for heart attack associated with Vioxx. “This whole field wouldn’t be in the state it’s in had it not been for the problems that occurred early on with Vioxx,” he said. “They wouldn’t have had to make a settlement if they hadn’t concealed things.”

Even the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals in the country, recognized the dangers of Vioxx and the cover-up by Merck. As early as 2005, this Journal accused Merck of burying critical heart risk data which had shown up in one of the very first drug trials that Merck performed when they were evaluating whether or not it was safe for the public. The editors of the Medical Journal presented clear evidence that Vioxx was aware of the fact that there were 3 heart attacks in the drug trial which they failed to report. They buried this information because their drug probably wouldn’t sell very well if folks like you and me knew it caused heart attacks. The buried it just like Senator Kuipers and the Michigan Senate have buried the key to allowing Michigan citizens and families to hold Merck accountable for their actions in injuring and killing Michigan citizens.

Why would Senator Kuipers do this? It’s called “show me the money”. Check out his donor lists. See how much money different corporate interests and special interest groups have dumped into his campaign coffers. The Michigan Insurance Federation, the GlaxoSmithKline PAC [drug companies], Pfizer Michigan PAC [more drug companies], Medco Health PAC [the PAC to a $43 Billion dollar/year pharmacy group], the Pharmacy ActionCouncil, and other drug company or drug company supporter donors have donated HUGE sums of money to Senator Kuipers campaign coffers. He owes these folks for their financial support and it’s payback time.

Why would I write about this? I am an attorney. I specialize in trials. I don’t handle cases involving drug companies. I have no financial interest in whether drug companies continue to exploit drug immunity in this state or don’t. Hell, I’m a Republican and have voted that way in every election I’ve cast a vote in. But, when I see members of my political party, or anyone in a position of power exploiting their legal powers, I have a duty, as an officer of the court to do something about it. Educating people who might not know how bad Senator Kuipers and the other Senators are screwing Michigan citizens at the expense of the little guy like you and me is one way to combat this legislative abuse.

If this upsets you too, contact Senator Kuipers and let him know. Here’s how to get ahold of Wayne.

If Wayne isn’t your Senator, here’s how to find out who is. Contact your Senator and let them know how you feel. Especially when it comes time to vote next time around…….