New legislation proposed in the U.S. Senate would make it illegal for drug and product manufacturing companies to knowingly withhold information about a dangerous defect or side effect associated with their product. The “Hide No Harm” bill was introduced recently by U.S. Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and would make it a criminal offense for companies who know about problems with their products to hide them from the public and medical professionals. If you have suffered serious injuries or complications while taking a potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drug or using a defective product, contact a knowledgeable product liability attorney today to explore your possible compensation options.
The “Hide No Harm” bill was spurred at least in part by the recent General Motors recall, which revealed that the auto maker knew about problems with its ignition switches for years, but failed to take action or warn consumers. The GM recall, which has affected millions of Saturn, Chevy and Pontiac vehicles, has raised public awareness about the risks associated with defective consumer products, and the injuries and deaths that can occur when companies fail to provide the public with adequate warnings about defects in their products. The GM ignition switch problem has been tied to at least 16 fatalities and dozens of accidents that occurred when defective ignition switches caused the vehicle to suddenly stall, or prevented airbags from deploying properly during an accident.
There have been a number of other incidents in recent years where companies knew about problems with their products, but chose to conceal them from the public, rather than issuing warnings, particularly in the pharmaceutical drug industry. Takeda Pharmaceuticals was recently ordered to pay $9 in punitive damages after a jury found that the drug maker concealed information from doctors and consumers regarding the side effects of Actos, a diabetes drug that has been found to cause bladder cancer in patients. Takeda was also sanctioned by a federal judge after it was found that the drug company attempted to hide or destroy evidence of the connection between Actos and bladder cancer, and acted in bad faith during litigation.
Dangerous medications and defective products can put consumers at risk for devastating side effects and potentially life-threatening complications, often without their knowledge. “Too many times, we’ve seen officials at companies decide to keep selling a dangerous product to consumers, knowing that even if they get caught, the penalties will be small,” said Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “This bill would protect the public because it would finally put formidable penalties on these rule-breakers and help deter them. Our regulatory system needs more teeth to ensure that companies take health and safety seriously.”
If passed into law, the legislation would allow corporate officers in drug and product manufacturing companies to face fines and jail time of up to five years if they are found to have knowingly withheld information about a dangerous product defect or side effect from consumers and the medical community. If you believe you have been adversely affected by a dangerous pharmaceutical drug or defective consumer product, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers harmed by dangerous products, and can help put you in touch with a reputable attorney who has experience handling product liability claims.