October 2014

So-called tort reform does not decrease costs or reduce testing ordered by doctors

The forces behind so-called tort reform (more accurately named tort deform) argue that tort reform legislation will save consumers money because doctors will not have to perform what is erroneously called "defensive medicine" (that is, ordering tests so the doctor does not get sued).

A study presented in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (October 16, 2014) shows that in three (3) so-called tort reform states, emergency room doctors basically ordered the same tests as before. There was no reduction in costs. Another inference one could reasonably draw from this study is that most doctors probably do not indulge in so-called "defensive medicine" in order not to be sued,  but rather most doctors probably order testing for the benefit of their patients.

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Actos Verdict for Plaintiff

A jury in Philadelphia found defendant, Takeda, liable for over $2 million for failing to warn that its drug, Actos, can cause bladder cancer, and for causing a 79-year-old woman's bladder cancer. During the three-week-plus trial,  Takeda had argued that smoking or other causes were to blame. There have now been seven (7) trials involving claims that Actos caused bladder cancer. The largest verdict, $9 billion earlier this year, is being appealed by Takeda. Two verdicts in favor of plaintiffs (California and Maryland) which combined totalled $8.2 million, were overturned by the trial judge. Three verdicts (two in Las Vegas and one in Illinois) were defense verdicts in favor of Takeda. Evidence shows that Takeda officials destroyed documents about Actos. Actos is a Type-2 diabetes drug which  has generated over $16 billion in sales since it was released in 1999. The peak in sales was in the year ending March 2011, at $4.5 billion. Actos accounted for over 25% of Takeda's profits. There are over 3,500 lawsuits consolidated before Judge Rebecca Doherty in federal court in Louisiana. There are another 4,500 cases in state courts in Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and California.

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