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Why Health Care Costs So Much, Part 4,356: Suing Pharmacies For Car Crashes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Here is the WSJ article by Amy Merrick which I discussed with my law partner Ron Cabaniss in the first segment. Key graphs:

In 2007, U.S. retail pharmacies dispensed nearly 180 million prescriptions for opiates, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, up from about 40 million in 1991, according to congressional testimony last year from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

At the same time, pharmacists have much more patient information at their disposal, thanks to pharmacy computer systems and a proliferation of state online prescription-tracking databases. The availability of patient information is only expected to increase as electronic health records are adopted by more and more doctors.

As a result, consumers, government officials and pharmacies themselves are increasingly asking what a pharmacy is legally and ethically obligated to do with this newly available information.

As Ron pointed out, the drugstore chains face an enormous decision. If they stand and fight demands for payment for accidents and catastrophic injuries caused by drug abusers who injure people under the influence of prescriptions lawfully dispensed, they will run up enormous legal bills and will eventually lose some of the cases that go to trial.

If they settle such claims, more and more will follow and they will pay enormous costs and their insurance premiums will skyrocket.

Either way, the consumers of prescription medicines will pay the passed-along costs eventually.

Which is why the idea of Obamacare without tort reform is simply absurd, and a gift to the plaintiffs’ bar from their friends in the Democratic Party.

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