WILL POWER REPORT: SUPREME COURT ON DRUGS?

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Nothing but the truth! 

By Will Power
 
June 29, 2011 (San Diego)--The US Supreme Court made two important health care rulings last week. 
 
The first ruling was that consumers harmed by the use of a generic drug cannot sue the drug manufacturer.  Generic drugs are copies of drugs which are out of patent.  This means anybody can manufacture these copycat drugs, and often quality control  can become a problem.  Another problem is because many of these drugs are made in India or China,  issues of counterfeit drugs become an issue.


 
The Supreme Court's logic was that these drugs have already proven themselves in the marketplace or physicians would not prescribe them.  But often side effects are poorly understood or do not show up after a long period of time.  If patients have an allergy or idiopathic reaction to a generic drug, they are out of luck.  They will have to suffer and nobody will be liable. 
 
The second decision was a body blow to the concept of patient confidentiality. The State of Vermont passed a law which stopped pharmacies from supplying patient prescriptions to drug company databases.  The Vermont law was aimed at keeping your personal, private medical information from becoming public information.  But the Supreme Court ruled the Vermont law unconstitutional, which means all your private drug records go into computers run by Big Pharma.  Then those drug reps start trying to pressure your MD into using more expensive medications.
  
Taken together, the two decisions appear to be a wash.  The effect on consumers will not stop the use of generic drugs, which are cheaper and often effective.  But the decision to allow personal medical information into corporate databases could mean people could have their insurance cancelled if they are taking anti-cancer drugs or have expensive drug regimens. Both these decisions take power from consumers and put it in the hands of Big Pharma.  The Robert's Court will certainly never be described as pro-consumer!
 
Will Power is a retired history teacher and creative writing instructor.