Dennis Quaid testified yesterday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform considering the reversal of the Riegel v. Medtronic Supreme Court decision finding that state tort claims regarding medical devices were preempted if the FDA granted pre-market approval for the medical device. Dennis Quaid told Congress on Wednesday that taking away the right to sue pharmaceutical companies would turn consumers into “uninformed and uncompensated lab rats.” Quaid emotionally described the near fatal drug mix-up in which his newborn twins were given 1,000 times the appropriate dose of Baxter’s blood thinner heparinin November at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Quaid has a lawsuit pending against Baxter for his twins’ heparin overdose. Medtronic v. Riegel does not bar his lawsuit but the Supreme Court will consider this Fall whether to extend the preemption umbrella to pharmaceutical drugs in Wyeth v. Levine. Congress has the ability to shut down all of this preemption talk by passing a bill negating Medtronic and Wyeth.
Apparently, Tom Davis from Virginia, the ranking Republican on the committee – fresh off his lovefest with Roger Clemens (any regrets on that one, Congressman?) – fell apart again, frozen by the presence of a star. He told Quaid that if this happened to his family, “I’d be suing everybody in sight.” Interesting admission. What does this tell us? I’m just curious, Congressman, do you think you should get access to the justice you would seek but deny others because you are rich, famous, powerful, or all of the above?