Pharmaceutical companies are notorious for only disclosing the information they feel will help sell products. With the help of judges and labeling such as trade secrets, these companies are often able to keep important court documents sealed and out of the hands of the public. Unfortunately, these documents often refer to health concerns and safety issues with the drugs these companies are selling the public. Companies such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly are just a few drug companies attempting to suppress the release of their documents.
The "Sunshine in Litigation Act" now being considered by the Senate seeks to change all of that. This bill, already passed by the US Senate Judiciary Committee with a 12-6 margin, will require judges to consider public health issues before granting any protective order of sealing court records and settlement agreements. The hope is that this will increase the transparency of these product liability cases and allow for the dissemination of important safety information about these drugs to the public and government regulatory agencies. With drugs that can have dangerous side affects, such as Fosamax, Reglan, and Levaquin, on the market, a little information could go a long way.