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July 14, 2003

Chamber Study Shows Rx Lawsuits Affect Behaviors

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 15, 2003 – A United States Chamber of Commerce survey of doctors, pharmacists and patients found that drug lawsuits influence some people to stop taking their prescription medication.

“Plaintiff lawyers’ addiction to lawsuits has changed the way doctors prescribe, pharmacists dispense and patients use medicine,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, which commissioned the survey. “A troublesome pattern is emerging – with even the fear of litigation interfering with the way health care professionals practice medicine.”

One in four patients surveyed said they would immediately stop taking a drug prescribed for them if they saw an advertisement for a lawsuit over the medication, according to the Harris Interactive “Pharmaceutical Liability Study.”

Nearly half of the pharmacists surveyed said their patients either stopped taking a properly prescribed medication (44 percent) or refused to take a medication (40 percent), because the patient discovered the drug might be the focus of a liability lawsuit. For doctors, 38 percent reported patients stopped taking and 29 percent said patients refused to take a prescribed drug because the patients found out that the medication was part of a lawsuit.

More than 40 percent of the doctors surveyed said they avoided prescribing an appropriate medication because the drug might have been involved in a product liability lawsuit. More than half (57 percent) are concerned they could face patient lawsuits over side effects from a properly prescribed drug.

The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform hosted business leaders and policy experts in a half-day summit to address pharmaceutical liability and its effects on dispensing and using prescription drugs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Mark B. McClellan delivered the keynote address.

To see a summary of the study findings, go to the Studies and Surveys section.

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