Franks subcommittee to examine 'ethical responsibilities' of plaintiff lawyer Rx ads

A U.S. House subcommittee on which Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (R-8) serves will hold a hearing tomorrow regarding the impact and oversight of plaintiff lawyer television ads that pitch lawsuits against makers of prescription drugs.

A U.S. House subcommittee on which Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (R-8) serves will hold a hearing tomorrow regarding the impact and oversight of plaintiff lawyer television ads that pitch lawsuits against makers of prescription drugs.  

A U.S. House subcommittee on which Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (R-8) serves will hold a hearing tomorrow regarding the impact and oversight of plaintiff lawyer television ads that pitch lawsuits against makers of prescription drugs.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing, Examining Ethical Responsibilities Regarding Attorney Advertising, will come a day after the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) released a national survey showing that these plaintiff lawyer ads may be causing some patients to cease taking their prescribed medicines.

According to that survey, conducted for ILR by Public Opinion Strategies, one in four Americans who are currently taking prescription medicines say "they would stop taking them immediately — without consulting their doctor" after seeing such lawyer advertisements.

Seven in 10 respondents "have seen a trial lawyer ad for a lawsuit over a prescription medicine" and 84 percent say they would "be concerned if they saw a lawsuit ad about a medicine they were taking."

The full survey findings can be found here

The hearing in Franks' subcommittee comes several months after the chair of the full House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), sent letters to the American Bar Association and every state bar association, urging the organizations to adopt requirements for warnings on trial lawyer advertisements that urge patients to discontinue the use of some medicines.

In his letters, Goodlatte cited a Heart Rhythm Journal article which found that a number of patients have "ceased using their anticoagulent without consulting a physician after viewing negative legal advertisements."

According to that article, "in the majority of cases, patients experienced a stroke or transient ischemic neurological event; 2 patients had persistent residual paralysis. One patient, a 45-year-old man receiving rivaroxaban for treatment of deep vein thrombosis, stopped the drug and died of a subsequent pulmonary embolism, and 1 female patient, receiving rivaroxaban for stroke prevention, stopped the drug and died of a massive stroke."

Goodlatte noted that the American Medical Association recently adopted a resolution that supports a “requirement that attorney commercials which may cause patients to discontinue medically necessary medications have appropriate warnings that patients should not discontinue medications without seeking the advice of their physician.”

“Alarmist plaintiff lawyer ads targeting prescription drugs can literally scare people to death,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard in a media statement accompanying the announcement of the survey findings. "Congress is right to examine their impact on the public’s health and to consider how this can be remedied."

The hearing, which begins at 9:00 a.m., will be live streamed here

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) U.S. Representative Trent Franks (AZ-8) United States House Committee on the Judiciary

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