West Virginia Record

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Scaremongering lawyers should be disciplined

Our View

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 8, 2019


When diabetics stop taking medicines that keep them alive and make their condition tolerable, there’s a good chance they’ve been spooked by unsubstantiated claims made against the meds by trial attorneys advertising for clients to represent in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.

For more than a decade now, attorneys have been using scare tactics to scare up clients taking beneficial drugs prescribed by their physicians, and this ongoing phenomenon has had an adverse effect on as many as 100,000 diabetics in America. 

“There were many patients who were unnecessarily worried that the medication their doctors prescribed might be killing them,” Dr. Matthew Mintz commented in a blog post ten years ago. “Similarly, physicians were worried that a medication they thought they were giving their patients to help them, might have caused harm.” In addition, he noted, “many patients simply stopped taking their diabetes medications, and many of those patients did not tell their doctor about this.”

Six years ago, the Food and Drug Administration decided to relax its restrictions on Avandia and keep it on the market. It had been the top-selling diabetes drug until a researcher claimed that it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes, whereupon the FDA restricted its use and prescriptions declined precipitously.

In the meantime, Avandia-maker GlaxoSmithKline spent millions defending a beneficial product, and tens of thousands of diabetics suffered and died for fear of taking it.

Now the Federal Trade Commission is taking action against the scaremongers, challenging claims made in TV commercials regarding adverse side effects allegedly caused by drugs like Invokana, Truvada, and Jardiance. The FDA has issued safety warnings about Invokana and Jardiance, but has not recalled either drug.

Invokana lawyers and lead generators spent $5 million on television advertising in the first eight months of this year, while Jardiance lawyers spent about $4 million.

Lawyers running anti-drug commercials should be held accountable for their claims. If they can’t substantiate those claims, they should be forced to compensate the companies whose sales they’ve depressed and the drug users whose health they’ve impaired.

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US Federal Trade Commission