Did Tort “Reform” Contribute to the Pill Mill Epidemic in Mississippi?


In the late 1990’s Mississippians were getting Fen Phen prescriptions left and right. The drug was hugely popular. Folks would car pool to their doctors to get these “miraculous” weight loss drugs. So-called “weight loss” clinics opened up all over the state and fen phen was being dispensed like Pez to second graders.

The problem for the most part is that the doctors dispensing these pills never bothered to advise clients of the dangers associated with these drugs like heart valve leakage and primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) which causes death. Most of the doctors never monitored their patients while they were on the Fen Phen combination to make sure that the drugs were not adversely affecting their health. As a result, many Mississippians and citizens across the country, began experiencing serious heart and lung problems which were associated with Fen Phen. Doctors who failed to properly administer the drugs were sued along with the drug manufacturer. Long standing Products Liability law allowed lawsuits against the entity responsible for pushing the product out to the consumers.

This same pattern repeated itself with other drugs like Propulsid and Rezulin and doctors were sued along with the drug manufacturers. Well, the doctors did not like this to say the least. Tort “Reform” was making its way to Mississippi and the suits against the doctors provided tort “reform” advocates all they needed. There were media reports that lawsuits against doctors in Mississippi were driving doctors out of the state! Malpractice insurance premiums were skyrocketing and it was all because of lawsuits! Dogs and cats were living together, mass hysteria!

With the white jacked doctors out in front, lawmakers passed several pieces of legislation which greatly curbed lawsuits against doctors. This occurred in 2002 and 2004. Since that time, there have been numerous lawsuits against drug companies for creating dangerous drugs but none against the doctors who push the drugs.

A recent article in the Clarion Ledger stated that Pill MIlls were a national epidemic. Prescription drug usage in Mississippi (and across the nation) is staggering. In July alone in Mississippi, there were 536,630 prescriptions for controlled substances filled for more than 31 million pills, according to the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy. Wow.

Law enforcement officers are doing their best to catch “pill mills” but I wonder why the Mississippi legislature approved laws which would allow such “pill mills” to operate free from civil penalties? It’s just another case of so-called tort reform gone wrong.

We were heavily involved in Fen Phen litigation as well as Propulsid and Rezulin. We felt that we not only helped people but helped get dangerous drugs off the market or get stronger warnings placed on the drug labels. Unfortunately, most lawmakers are simply more concerned with helping big business and insurance companies. To learn more about us go to the Coxwell & Associates website.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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