GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER
Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation repealing Michigan’s immunity shield for drug manufacturers. This makes Michigan the final state in the nation to repeal the shield and allow Michiganders to hold drug companies accountable if they or a family member are harmed.
“Today, Michigan joins every other state in the nation as we create a stronger path to hold drug companies accountable in cases of wrongdoing,” said Governor Whitmer. “When you take a prescription drug, you should have confidence to know that it is safe, and if it harms you or your family, you deserve accountability. By fighting for consumers, we will also ensure that companies doing good work can outcompete and outperform companies that prioritize padding their profits over delivering quality products for people. Let’s keep working together to make Michigan a safer place where you can get better when you’re sick and have a great quality of life.”
“Michigan has been alone in preventing residents from seeking justice when pharmaceutical companies harm them or someone they love,” said State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). “The repeal of our state’s immunity law for the drug industry restores accountability for drug manufacturers, and vital access to justice for our state and its people.”
Drug Immunity Shield Repeal
Senate Bill 410, sponsored by Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), repeals Michigan’s only-in-the-nation law that prevented state lawsuits against drug manufacturers. Now, for the first time in 30 years, residents and state and local governments can sue pharmaceutical companies and distributors for injuries caused by their products.
Over the last few years, several states have worked together to secure settlements for impacted citizens from opioid manufacturers. Cumulative settlements from the opioid crisis have exceeded $54 billion. Thanks to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan will receive nearly $800 million, which will be used to help communities better address the opioid crisis by funding effective treatment. While the Attorney General secured this huge win, Michigan’s drug immunity law made it more difficult.
Michigan’s immunity shield law was also cited by a federal judge earlier this year in a $425 million settlement against a company whose heartburn drugs caused chronic kidney injuries. However, because of the immunity shield, the judge dismissed the claims of nearly 200 Michiganders in the case, and people who were harmed missed out on money they deserved. By repealing the immunity shield and joining every other state, Michiganders will be able to get the restitution they deserve in settlements against drug manufacturers.
ATTORNEY GENERAL DANA NESSEL
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined Governor Gretchen Whitmer for the signing of the Drug Immunity repeal. SB 410, sponsored by Senator Jeff Irwin, eliminates provisions in the Michigan Product Liability Act (Public Act 249 of 1995), which shielded pharmaceutical companies from certain lawsuits brought by consumers.
“This bill was never about opening the floodgates of litigation; it’s always been about putting Michigan and its residents on an even playing field with the rest of the country,” said Nessel in her remarks during the bill signing. “We all owe a debt of gratitude to the many legislators who took up this mantle in the past, and to Senator Irwin, the legislature, and the Governor for scoring this win for drug safety, for accountability, and for Michigan today.”
In 1995, Michigan passed legislation that made the state the only one in the nation that protected drug manufacturers and sellers from liability stemming from the safety and efficacy of their products. This has factored into the inability of multiple administrations of the Department of Attorney General to straightforwardly address the conduct of certain companies in the context of the opioid epidemic and recovery of taxpayer dollars paid out from the Medicaid program due to fraud.
Since taking office in 2019, Nessel has revived the state’s Consumer Protection Division, issuing regular alerts to keep residents up to date on the latest scams, launching the Michigan Identity Theft Support unit, and fighting back against pervasive and illegal robocalls. She has been an outspoken advocate calling for major reforms to the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) and has been actively working with the legislature on this effort. Like the Drug Immunity law that was repealed today, the MCPA is the only one of its kind in the nation hampering the ability of the Department to seek remedies on behalf of the state’s residents.
The Department’s testimony in support of SB 410 can be viewed here.