The judicial freedom and access watchdog American Association for Justice issued a report earlier this month that suggests that women pay a disproportionately-high price for the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. The report, titled “From Accutane to Zonite: A History of Dangerous Drugs & Devices Marketed to Women,” is a scathing read of nearly 60 pages that looks at the way women have been targeted since as far back as the late 1800s.
In issuing the report, Julie Braman Kane, President of AAJ, says that “more than a century of gender inequality in research and unhindered corporate greed continue to put women at risk of exposure to dangerous drugs and medical devices.”
The lack of attention paid to women’s issues in the medical community is far from a recent discovery. In the summer of 2016, a study conducted by Northwestern University concluded that the FDA – the federal agency in charge of overseeing the safety of the food, drugs, and medical devices we access on a daily basis – had essentially failed to protect women from poorly designed medical devices. Of 18 devices approved for use in high-risk women’s health care, four approved devices couldn’t show they were actually effective. Six were allowed to stay on the market. And, just three were completely removed.
Additionally, we know that women’s pain issues are generally not treated as quickly or taken as seriously as pain suffered by men. Statistics from research conducted in 2015 showed that women routinely waited an average of 16 minutes longer than men for emergency room treatment for acute abdominal pain.
Couple all of this with the disaster that is the laughingly-named “Protecting Access to Care Act” and the risks for women only grow.
A key provision hidden within the law grants immunity to a health care provider who prescribes a drug or device that was FDA approved; regardless of whether that drug or device was eventually proven to be dangerous. So, in the case of the 18 medical devices mentioned previously, there would be no repercussions for a provider who prescribed a drug or device that they knew was inadequate or dangerous – so long as it had been approved for use by the FDA.
One needs only to look at the opioid crisis gripping the country – a crisis rooted in federally-approved medications – to truly understand just how bad of an idea this is.
When talking about the AAJ report, Kane adds that “Congress should be ashamed of masquerading corporate handouts as patient protections. This vengeful legislation severs Americans’ access to the courts, impedes state laws, and protects only those drug and device manufacturers and health care providers that cause our loved ones harm.”
A strong statement, indeed. Unfortunately, however, it suffers from a fatal flaw: it assumes that this Congress and our current crop of politicians is actually capable of feeling shame.
The full AAJ report can be read here.