On December 7, 2023, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the repeal of the law that protected drug companies from lawsuits.
What is the law’s history, and what does its repeal mean for medical malpractice lawsuits?
Holding big pharma responsible
Until December 7, 2023, pharmaceutical companies enjoyed immunity from product liability lawsuits under the 1995 Product Liability Act. This meant that drug makers and sellers were shielded from being held accountable for defective or unreasonably dangerous drugs.
The law intended to make Michigan more appealing to the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. Instead, Michigan was the only state that gave these companies almost total immunity from lawsuits filed by Michigan’s citizens.
Furthermore, this drug immunity law has prevented the residents of Michigan from joining large class action lawsuits.
Both the Senate and House voted to repeal the law in a bipartisan vote. Not only will this allow individuals to move forward in suing drug companies for the death or injuries to a loved one, but it is also retroactive. Anyone harmed by drugs since 1996 can sue a pharmaceutical company for damages.
Repealing Michigan’s drug immunity law could have significant implications for medical malpractice lawsuits in the state. The state can expect an increase as more people can now seek compensation for any harm caused by prescription medications.
It can also change how doctors prescribe medications. If they know that the drug manufacturer can be held liable for harm caused by their products, they might be more cautious about prescribing certain medications, especially if they may be named as part of a larger medical malpractice suit against pharmaceutical companies.
Not everyone is on board with the repeal. Several people feel that it will cause an excessive number of medical malpractice lawsuits that will overburden the legal system. The actual impact remains to be seen. Consider learning more if you have suffered harm due to prescribed drugs.