Taxpayers paid for 80% of the medical bills from Vioxx…
I'm sitting in a conference right now regarding the status of the settlement for the ~50,000 Vioxx cases. One of the things that has to be resolved before money gets paid is the Medicare/Medicaid lien. As I've explained before, if Medicare or Medicaid (or a private insurer) pays for your medical expenses related to a defective drug, and you later sue the manufacturer of that drug, you'll have to pay Medicare or Medicaid back.
Apparently, 80% of the Vioxx claimants were on Medicare or Medicaid. (Some were on both.) Thankfully, the Vioxx settlement will make sure our overburdened Medicare and Medicaid systems will be paid back the many millions of dollars that were spent to treat Vioxx victims. But as I've also written about, FDA preemption will eliminate the right of the victims of the next Vioxx to reclaim these medical expenses. In other words, FDA preemption will make taxpayers pay for the negligence of pharmaceuticals.
It can be debated whether manufacturers who comply with FDA regulations should be subject to punitive damages. But there is no reason that taxpayers should have to pay for the medical bills of victims of prescription drug injuries. John Kerry called it the "Pottery Barn Rule," while others call it the "Swap Meet Rule" - you break it, you buy it. Can anyone offer a compelling reason to change the rule to "Merck breaks it, taxpayers pay for it?"