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2 Bad Supreme Court Decisions

The story in the LA Times, Supreme Court sides with pharmaceutical industry in two decisions, was in the first instance about suing over tardive dyskinesia developed by people using Reglan, a drug for digestion.

People in mental health treatment are also at risk for developing tardive dyskinesia due to the neuroleptic drugs some of them are prescribed for psychosis and bipolar mania. Lawyers know better than to try to mount such a defense for them. When they are not accorded the rights of full and complete citizens, of course, they don’t stand much of a chance of winning such a case in court.

Reporting from Washington— The Supreme Court gave the pharmaceutical industry a pair of victories, shielding the makers of generic drugs from most lawsuits by injured patients and declaring that drug makers have a free-speech right to buy private prescription records to boost their sales pitches to doctors.

What kind of “free-speech” is a boughtprivate prescription record”!? (Emphasis added.)

The government just entered the drug selling trade and, frankly, I don’t think that is a place where the government belongs.

The patients, Gladys Mensing and Julie Demahy, developed tardive dyskinesia, a severe neurological disorder, after taking metoclopramide, a generic form of the drug Reglan for digestive problems, including acid reflux. They sued, alleging that the drug maker failed to warn them of the danger of taking this drug for more than 12 weeks. Studies had suggested a potentially increased risk of the condition — and Reglan was eventually required to carry a “black box” warning about it. That wasn’t the case at the time.

Just imagine getting a permanent neurological movement disorder, a physical disability, from the drug you used to treat your gas, and then not being able to sue the company responsible for making it.

This decision means brand name drug makers can be sued, and generic drug makers can’t be sued. Go figure…

In the second decision, the court by a 6-3 vote struck down a Vermont law that barred pharmacies, drug makers and others from buying or selling prescription records from patients for marketing purposes. Vermont’s physicians had sought passage of the law, arguing that their prescriptions were intended for private use of patients and should not become a marketing tool.

Some people could be so desperate as to sell prescription records. You just have to wonder about Supreme Court Justices who are so desperate as to sell their rulings to the highest corporate bidder. I’m still looking for the freedom involved in such puppetry. I’m wondering who our politicians might have sold it to.

4 Responses

  1. Metoclo(r)pramide is known here as Maxolon. It’s used very often as an anti emetic in hospitals. It’s often given routinely with morphine because morphine generally causes nausea. It’s not usually a problem because a person is likely to never have more than a few small doses in a lifetime.

    But it is related to chlorpromazine which is Thorazine in the US and Largactil here. And like Thorazine and Haldol and other psych drugs it is a dopamine antagonist. And it’s generally known, by real doctors and nurses, that chronic use can cause tardive dyskinesia.

    About Thorazine. One of the two chemists who first synthesized chlorpromazine saw immediately that the drug caused symptoms and behaviours commonly seen in patients with encephalitis lethargica. (It was some time before the major tranks became known as a cause of tardive dyskinesia) Encephalitis lethargica is a condition which can be caused by infection, injury, compression etc. The chemist predicted an epidemic of the condition.

    Also, interestingly (at least to me) it seems as though the British/Australian name for chlorpromazine, Largactil, is derived from the letters in the term encephalitis lethargica. Like it was some kind of joke.

    • Thank you for your insights on Metroclopramide, Rod, a drug that goes by the brand names of Reglan and Maxolon among others.

  2. Neither ruling makes any sense to me.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in a Texas case, a while back) that a person can be involuntarily hospitalized (incarcerated) for “clear and convincing” evidence of their danger to self or others…

    The bar was lowered from “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”….

    Thanks to all the “advocacy” groups, for making sure that the “mentally ill” (whatever that means) are provided “extra protection” under the law… resulting in the loss of “equal protection.”

    That’s what happens when “advocacy” takes place for people with “severe mental illness” (whatever that is).


    • Neither ruling made sense to me either. It is clear that the Supreme Court in these cases has ruled in favor of corporate interests and against the interests of the average American citizen.

      The Texas situation you mention sounds eerily similar to the situation in Virginia where law makers recently lowered the criteria for coercive mental health treatment in that state. The same sort of thing is happening in other states. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s mental health “consumer”/survivors who are unwittingly aiding and abetting law makers in this flagrant disregard of their own rights. Rather than serving on task forces and committees set up expressly to curtail their constitutional rights, I think it makes more sense to protest the whole procedure of rolling back human rights and civil liberties. A token committee member is a committee member who is not getting much done. He or she is there merely to give the appearence of legitimacy to what amounts to unfair proceedings. I would argue that people who care about people on the receiving end of mental health treatment don’t need to serve a public relations purpose for people who are out to oppress them.

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