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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina could become just the second state in the country to protect pharmaceutical companies from almost all lawsuits for the harm a drug may cause.

The state House is to vote Wednesday on legislation that would grant immunity from lawsuits to companies if the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for sale.

Michigan is the only state with a similar law. That state's appeals court ruled in March that the law barred Michigan officials from suing Merck & Co. to recover millions of dollars spent on Vioxx, an arthritis drug pulled from the market because of health risks in 2004.

A lawyer who's represented drug companies says they want protection from the whims of jurors lacking scientific expertise whose decisions could overrule years of research by regulators.

 

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