States Can Break Through Pharma’s Liability Shield

by Brownstone Institute March 3rd 2023, 11:59 am

Legislators in Arkansas have a simple question before them: if pharmaceutical executives deliberately withhold knowledge of a product’s adverse effects, should they be criminally liable if patients suffer serious harm from the product?

The federal government effectively sold the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial to the largest lobbying force in the country. 

A primary purpose of the Seventh Amendment was to prevent powerful forces from warping the legal system to protect themselves. The convergence of the pharmaceutical industry and our federal government, outlined in the previous article, sacrificed this constitutional right for a corporate liability shield. 

Now, it is largely up to state legislatures to restore citizens’ rights against the state-subsidized pharmaceutical companies that rake in billions from their Covid products.

In Arkansas, Senate Bill 8 would make it criminal for pharmaceutical executives to knowingly hide, conceal, or withhold information regarding a medical product’s adverse effects if the product results in death or serious injury. 

The Arkansas GOP can enact this legislation without making concessions. Republicans outnumber Democrats 82 to 18 in the State House of Representatives and 29 to 6 in the State Senate. 

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for a “new generation of Republican leadership” in her response to the 2023 State of the Union. She boasted that she had “repealed COVID orders and said never again to authoritarian mandates and shutdowns.”

Mandates have been lucrative for Big Pharma. Covid products accounted for more than half of Pfizer’s record $100 billion in revenue in 2022. These companies received the benefit of taxpayer funding without the risk of legal liability.. 

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