Gabriel tells his story

When Gabriel Drapos was a first-year student at Harvard, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that would ultimately take countless drug therapies, several invasive spinal column procedures, and three surgeries to manage.

He later found out that his disease was likely connected to a drug he had taken:

Personal pain becomes a social injustice in the presence of unconscionable ethics. I discovered there was likely a connection between my disease and a drug I had taken in high school. Allegedly, I should say. I’ll never get my day in court to prove it.

Gabriel had taken a generic form of the drug. And because of a recent Supreme Court decision protecting generic drug manufacturers from being sued in court when their labels don’t warn consumers of health risks, he’ll never get a chance to stand up for his rights in court and hold the drug company responsible.

Gabriel’s story is featured in AFJ’s latest documentary film,”Unequal Justice: the Relentless Rise of the 1% Court.”

“Unequal Justice” explores the growing pro-corporate bias in key Court decisions and their real-world impact on ordinary Americans. The film looks at three cases – Citizens United v. FEC, PLIVA v. Mensing, and Wal-Mart v. Dukes – to show how the law has been distorted to create advantages for corporations within our democratic system, restrict access to the courts, and prevent ordinary people from banding together to fight corporate misbehavior.

For Gabriel, it was PLIVA v. Mensing that ensured he wouldn’t be able to stand up for his rights in court. In PLIVA, the Supreme Court shielded generic drug manufacturers from state tort liability when their labels inadequately warn consumers of health risks. Absurdly, brand name drug manufacturers can be held liable for that very failure. But generic drugs make up 75 percent of the prescription drug market, and millions of Americans take the generic versions of prescription drugs, often because insurance companies require that prescriptions be filled with generics.

Without the risk of legal liability, generic drug manufacturers have little incentive to ensure that their warning labels are accurate. And when people like Gabriel are harmed by a generic drug, they have no legal remedy.

“Unequal Justice” will be released this fall. You can learn more and sign up to host a screening of the film at www.unequaljustice.org.

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