Thursday, October 14, 2010

[Vaccine] Side Effects That Were Unavoidable

The meaning of the title of this post is up for grabs in the Supreme Court in a vaccine case against drug company Wyeth, now owned by drug giant Pfizer. It's a complicated case in legalities, and which court should be hearing the arguments, and more jargon and nonsense.

What it's really about, is that a little girl was severely harmed by a vaccine years ago, and several years later that vaccine was removed from the market because it was so dangerous. Yet the courts say the proof is not there that the vaccine was at fault.

" turns on the text of the federal law, which bars ordinary lawsuits “if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.”

Much of the argument concerned the meaning of the word “unavoidable.”
“The language that they used is certainly, to say the least, confusing,” Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg said." [NY TIMES]

The Obama administration sides with Wyeth. The record of the FDA in coming to the aid of US public health is so abominable, it makes the reference to it in the following quote worse than any Comedy Central punch line:

"The U.S. government filed a brief and argued on behalf of Wyeth, with assistant to the solicitor general Benjamin J. Horwich telling the court that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control make determinations about which vaccines are safe and effective, and it should stay that way.

'It would be extraordinary to institute a system where juries would be second guessing a decision' by federal experts, he said." [Post-Gazette]

As they say in the movie business, "What a throw-away line!" Any jury would have the benefit of input from various experts from all sides--and in this age of skepticism of government oversight, from Katrina on down to the recent multi-million-egg recall, who wants to have the sole last word on vaccine safety be the FDA and CDC? Hands please?

"Justice Sonia Sotomayor, meanwhile, seemed to sympathize with the argument that manufacturers could keep less safe vaccines on the market without a legal incentive.

'What is the motivation for manufacturers to continue testing [vaccines] and voluntarily stopping [sales] if a better design is found somewhere else?' she asked. 'I don't see why they should stop before they cause as many injuries as they need to before the FDA tells them to stop.' " [Post-Gazette]

--A voice of clarity amidst the dense fog.

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