On Radio 4 yesterday, the File on 4 programme had an educated debate about the state of pharmaceutical multi party action claims.They went through the history of failed group actions from sodium valproate to vioxx. No mention was made of the discredited MMR cases which I felt should have been included to balance the programme.
Generally, it was a well handled debate about funding issues and for once someone in the media managed to concisely explain Conditional Fee Agreements and the great benefit they have achieved to society in enabling access to justice .
The programme highlighted that the main hurdle to justice for pharmaceutical claims is now the unwritten law that such claims can only succeed where the Claimants can show that the product is "defective" as defined by the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the risk of injury from the use of the drug has been more than doubled (to get over the balance of probabilities test).
As this programme makes clear, the law is currently heavily stacked on the side of the doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. The changes proposed by Lord Justice Jackson are going to mean less access to justice and pharmaceutical companies will effectively be above the law.
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