Thursday, November 17, 2005

No Liability Bird-Flu Shot. Want One?

You can make the case that a pandemic vaccine will be virtually an experimental drug—

Kim Elliott, deputy director of the Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit advocacy group urging action on any pandemic threat.--Los Angeles Times, 11/17/05

The fear of a bird-flu pandemic is causing panic among lawmakers to promote a life-saving vaccine. In order to increase the incentives for vaccine development, republican legislators are trying to limit, if not eliminate, any liability on the part of the drug manufacturers for any adverse harm the vaccine may cause.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) wants to attach liability
protections to a must-pass spending bill slated for quick action, spokeswoman Amy Call said Wednesday. That would bypass the cumbersome process of committee hearings and floor deliberations in each chamber.--Los Angeles Times, 11/17/05

My wife just spoke with our friend, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) which is a watchdog agency for safety regarding vaccines. Barbara was scheduled for one of her customary consulting appearances at a hearing on the bird-flu vaccine issue, but the hearing was cancelled. Just as with the scenario for pushing through the notoriously anti-civil rights Patriot Act, this add-on measure to protect big pharma is being ramrodded by Frist the same way.

I'm alarmed that something of critical importance is being discussed and handled in a back-room deal," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee."It makes no sense to try to rush this thing through in the darkness of night," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).--Los Angeles Times, 11/17/05

When the huge lobbyists—and the drug companies are up there with big oil--in Washington put their minds to getting a program passed, nothing will stand in their way—certainly not the petty needs of public health and safety, vs. campaign contributions to happy-to-oblige politicians.

A knowledgeable immunologist, not yet brain-washed, or money-laundered, by the vaccine manufacturers’ assurances of the effectiveness and safety of their products, will tell point blank of the problems the flu vaccine can cause to the immune system, and the probability that it won’t help as much as make the system vulnerable to other viral problems.

The influenza vaccine that many Americans clamored for this year [2003-2004] was not very good at protecting people against influenza, colds and similar viruses… the study shows that people who were vaccinated against influenza came down with colds, flu and similar viruses at the same rate as people who were not vaccinated. This would presumably include true influenza.-- Study: Vaccine didn't protect against flu, Reuters, 1/16/04

The discussion of whether or not the “impending” bird-flu scare is justified already took place on this blog with this summation:

...right now, there is no value in scaring the public with Hitchcockian
bird flu scenarios. The public must be kept in the loop, but potential threats should be put into context. The worst case is not the only case.—Los Angeles Times, Siegel, 10/11/05

As for Frist and his devious efforts—you can’t keep a well-compensated shill for big pharma down. Just to be fair, there are informed members of congress who take a different stance:

"In today's political climate, almost every threat is exaggerated, and
legislators have to try to do everything possible to prove that they're doing more than anyone else in case something does happen," …Rep. John Duncan [R-Tenn] said Friday at a congressional hearing, the third of the week on bird flu.--KEVIN FREKING ,The Associated Press 11/6/05

That is, of course, when they were holding hearings about the bird flu—not the Frist add-on legislation which is shielded from that kind of scrutiny.

Ever since Bush pledged $7 billion for bird flu vaccine the rush to line up for the payout has developed into a stampede. In this case, the public’s best course of treatment is to run for cover, eat nutritiously, get enough sleep, wash hands often, and not press the panic button.

UPDATE -- 11/18

Barbara Loe Fisher email:

Drug companies making vaccines have used blackmail tactics before to try to bully Congress into letting them off the hook for vaccine injuries and deaths. They did it in the 1970's with the bogus swine flu scare that convinced Congress to immunize companies from all liability for the hastily prepared swine flu vaccine that ended up brain damaging many Americans, few of whom ever got the promised "government compensation" they were supposed to get.

Vaccine makers blackmailed Congress in the 1980's, threatning to leave the nation without any childhood vaccines if they were not given protection from lawsuits on behalf of children brain damaged from the highly reactive whole cell DPT vaccine. Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 that eliiminated almost all liability for doctors and vaccine manufacturers. It worked: there were four drug companies marketing vaccines in the U.S. in 1982 (Wyeth, Lederle, Merck, Connaught) and today that number has doubled to eight (Wyeth, Merck, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, Medimmune, Chiron, Bioport, Vaxgen).

Now big Pharma wants to cut off citizen access to the judicial system if they are harmed by experimental or licensed vaccines potentially mandated to be used whenever the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares a public health emergency and Governors follow suit (see NVIC letter to Senate staffer Kadlec at The Pharma bail-out by Congress will result in vaccine casualties who will be left to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives long after the "emergency" is over.

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