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Relief for Haiti: Manufacturers Stepping Up

By | Miscellaneous | No Comments

We’ve posted previously on the companies that have made contributions to Haiti relief efforts in the wake of the terrible Jan. 12 earthquake. The outpouring of aid continues.

  • ConAgra: “ConAgra Foods, whose corporate headquarters is in Omaha, Nebraska, is joining in to help the cause and has just donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross for its International Relief Fund, to assist the Red Cross response in Haiti.”
  • Cargill: “MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Cargill is responding to the devastating earthquake in Haiti with an initial corporate donation of $50,000 that will be directed to long-time Cargill partners CARE and the World Food Programme, which have significant operations in the country.  In the Twin Cities, Cargill volunteers at its headquarters facility will be packaging 20,000 meals on January 18 for the nonprofit Kids Against Hunger, which will be sent directly to people in Haiti; Cargill volunteers will be packaging an additional 30,000 meals over the next month.”
  • General Mills Foundation: “The General Mills Foundation today announced a commitment of $250,000 to support disaster relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti. The $250,000 commitment includes a $100,000 donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund and a $150,000 donation to CARE International for long-term rebuilding efforts.”
  • United HealthGroup: “MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 15, 2010) UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which helps victims of countless crises around the world, including the recent earthquake in Haiti. In addition, the company will match employee contributions to charitable partner Global Impact, dollar for dollar up to $50,000.”
  • Medtronic: “MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 15, 2010 Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) announced today that it has pledged $150,000 through the Medtronic Foundation to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The Foundation will match employee donations up to $50,000, with matching funds directed to Partners in Health. An additional $100,000 grant will be directed to the rebuilding of community health clinics in Haiti.”
  • Ecolab: “Ecolab said it will contribute $500,000 of cleaning and sanitation products to help meet needs in Haiti, including hand sanitizers and surface sanitizers. In addition to the product donation, the Ecolab Foundation has offered a global matching gift program, through which it will match all Ecolab associate contributions to the Red Cross up to $1,000 per associate up to a total of $25,000.”
  • Pentair: “MINNEAPOLIS, Jan 15, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Pentair, Inc., a global water solutions provider, in coordination with its Foundation, is immediately donating $200,000 to fund portable water treatment systems and related supplies to Haiti. Working with the company’s charitable partner, Water Missions International (WMI), Pentair is able to provide 10 Living Water Treatment Systems (LWTS) and five chlorinators. These water systems can provide potable drinking water to approximately 100,000 total people daily.”
  • Mosaic Corp. (potash and phosphate): “Mosaic announced it is contributing $500,000 for earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.  Mosaic’s $500,000 contribution will provide both immediate and long-term assistance, supporting emergency medical services, triage and mobile communications.”
    Our accounting of these charitable efforts favors larger companies, which have the means and materiel to make large-scale contributions. We know there are also thousands of smaller manufacturers and their employees who are also concerned and caring in their donations.

    Earlier posts:

    Also, thanks to MinnPost.com for spotting several of these announcements from Twin Cities-based companies.

The Medical Device Litigation Act, a Hearing

By | Briefly Legal, Health Care, Regulations | One Comment

Balanced story in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer on a House committee hearing scheduled this afternoon on H.R. 1346, the Medical Device Safety Act. This is the bill that would end what’s called “preemption,” the federal liability protection for FDA-approved medical devices, opening the gates wide for product liability suits in state courts.

The bill comes in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic, and has long been a priority of the trial lawyers at the American Association for Justice.

The Plain Dealer’s headline represents the pro-lawsuit arguments, “Patients injured by faulty medical devices want laws to hold manufacturers accountable,” and the story leads with the claims of the injured party. Still, the Plain Dealer provides space for manufacturers and others to comment on innovation-stifling effects of the legislation.

“This bill does not in any way improve patient safety,” said Steris spokesman Stephen Norton. “It will, however, restrict patient access to essential medical technologies, produce a chilling effect on medical innovation, create more lawsuits, and ultimately result in higher health-care costs for all Americans.”

And from Medtronic spokesman Rob Clark:

“When you regulate through litigation, which is the recipe the Medical Device Safety Act is aimed at, it places decisions in the hands of a 12-person jury that’s only looking at one particular patient, and one particular situation and not evaluating the safety and efficacy and risk benefit of that device for everyone,” Clark said.

Washington Post columnist Michael Kinsley, who is testifying at today’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, made that important point last year when commenting on the high-profile preemption case, Wyeth v. Levine.

The flaws of litigation as a method of making important government decisions are well rehearsed. It is ungodly expensive: The lawyers typically cost more than even the most worthy plaintiff ever gets. It is arbitrary: The same issues get litigated again and again, usually with a different result each time. Most people who suffer never sue and get nothing. While the FDA has scientists, the courts have jurors, for whom ignorance of the subject at hand is not merely the norm but a virtual requirement. And because trials occur only when a risk has gone wrong, they inevitably overemphasize the risk and undervalue the benefit.

The Subcommitte on Health holding the hearing is chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), sponsor of the bill, so the agenda is clear enough. We trust that agenda allows space for the argument that undermining preemption will create a chaotic, expensive and capricious regulatory system ruled not by medical experts and the disinterested FDA but by juries in the 50 different states. And that’s a regulatory regime that does not serve the public.

For more on the hearing, see our post at Point of Law.com, “Medical Device Safety Act hearing, the PR angle.” It’s an interesting witness list.