Dr. Henrik Thomsen is one of Europe’s leading radiologists who has been alarmed over patients who have contracted a rare and potentially fatal disease, nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). It turns out that the patients were reportedly given a drug to help images become more pronounced during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. It is Omniscan and manufactured by GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of General Electric. The response of GE was to sue Thomsen for libel and effectively stop him from speaking about the dangers. It is another example of how England’s defamation laws are out of control. Companies tend to sue in England, which tends to favor corporations (particularly given the English rule that imposes legal costs on the loser in such litigation).
Thomsen drew attention to 20 kidney patients who were afflicted by NSF and had been given routine scans. Notably, it was later confirmed that they were all given the drug and and five of the patients died. European regulators are now issuing warnings on the use of the drug, but GE is still grinding Thomsen in court.
The company has already spent £380,000 in the litigation and, if it wins, will hit him with those and more costs. I have long been a critic of the English defamation rules and the English rule generally on fees. The system allows large companies to coerce settlements or deter critics under the threat of financial ruin. The result is fewer people are willing to take on major companies and fewer product liability actions are filed.
GE is clearly sending the message that it will not tolerate doctors raising health concerns about its products. Not exactly what the company suggests when it proclaims “we bring good things to life.”
For the full story, click here.