Governor Perdue’s Proposed FDA Immunity A Slap in the Face of Georgians

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As you know, Governor Sonny Perdue has proposed legislation that would grant any Georgia corporation that manufactures drugs complete immunity from any civil liability if that company’s drug harms a user as long as the FDA had approved it. This is a slap in the face of all Georgians and we need to tell the Governor we are not going to put up with it. Can you imagine the insanity of this proposal in light of the FDA debacle in Blakely, Georgia with the Peanut Corporation of America and the salmonella outbreak? Obviously, the FDA is a joke and can’t protect us from peanut butter, much less from dangerous pharmaceuticals. This is the same FDA that missed 12 prior positive tests for salmonella at the Peanut Corporation of American plant before the salmonella outbreak.

The Governor’s office made some feeble attempt to justify this slap in the face of Georgians yesterday and to distinguish the horrible peanut situation from his proposed FDA legislation: “The ‘F’ in FDA is much different than the ‘D’ in FDA. Our legislation is specifically targeted at drugs and medical devices that go through a rigorous approval process, which is totally unrelated to the FDA’s food regulation process,” said Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley. (The entire article is reprinted below).

Can you believe he said that? This sort of hyper-technical and meaningless distinction is tantamount to the Governor’s treating Georgians like second class citizens. We deserve better. Use this link to tell Governor Perdue enough is enough, and when it comes to the safety of Georgians’ food and drugs, we deserve grades of “A’s” and “B’s”, not “F’s” and “D’s.” Give Governor Perdue’s proposed “get out of jail free” card for corporate wrongdoers an “F.”

How peanut butter might gum up a Perdue bill
Thursday, January 29, 2009, 01:47 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The state Capitol can be a highly insulated bubble, but reality occasionally imposes itself.

Two years ago, the massacre at Virginia Tech threw a wrench into legislation backed by the National Rifle Association to permit employees to keep guns in cars parked on company lots.
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We may be witnessing something similar right now. Even if you live in a bubble, you know about that peanut-butter factory in Blakely:

A federal report released Wednesday on the salmonella outbreak fueled outrage and calls for a criminal probe into the South Georgia plant that officials said made the peanut butter that is linked to the food crisis. Georgia legislators vowed to sharpen laws regulating food-processing plants as federal officials announced an expanded product recall.

The report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detailed how the Blakely peanut butter plant failed to control contamination and retested tainted products before shipping them to market.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced he would introduce legislation that would protect drug companies and medical device manufacturers in Georgia from lawsuits over products approved by the FDA.

Said Perdue:

“As we continue to attract new investment in biotechnology, we can secure our position as a leader in this industry by enacting laws that respect the role of the federal Food and Drug Administration as the regulator of the safety of drugs and medical devices.”
The governor’s legislation hasn’t manifested itself yet. But litigators who oppose the measure are practicing their lines, and the Blakely peanut-butter factory has quickly become a major part of the script.

“If the Food and Drug Administration can’t protect citizens and consumers from peanut butter, do we really want them to be the only line of defense for drugs and medical devices?” asked Bill Clark, director of political affairs for the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.

We asked Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle this morning if the Blakely incident might sour the mood of the Capitol toward the governor’s bill.

Too soon to tell, Cagle said. He’d like to see the legislation.

But a spokesman for the governor said Perdue’s bill is to peanut butter what apples are to oranges.

“The ‘F’ in FDA is much different than the ‘D’ in FDA. Our legislation is specifically targeted at drugs and medical devices that go through a rigorous approval process, which is totally unrelated to the FDA’s food regulation process,” said Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley.

Further, Brantley said, the governor’s measure would protect companies from complaints against design defects of drugs and medical devices, not manufacturing defects. “If a drug manufacturer had salmonella in their factory and people got that from the taking the drug, this bill would not protect them,” he said.