Congress Ponders Liability Protection for Vaccine Makers
Thursday, December 8, 2005

The nation's drug industry needs enticements to mass produce vaccines that could protect hundreds of thousands of Americans against a flu pandemic, many health experts say, but so far, legislation on the table to provide that is facing stiff criticism.
"I boil it down to justice, accountability and transparency," said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center. "What you have is a situation where the drugs or vaccines would be rushed to market [and] there would be lowered standards of safety."

Lawmakers like Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts have said draft protections outlined in the bill are "another special favor for the drug companies … to absolve the pharmaceutical industry of any responsibility to patients injured by dangerous drugs or vaccines, with no compensation for those who are harmed."
Such protections are also being opposed by groups such as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the Center for Justice and Democracy. ATLA notes that "companies are investing in the vaccine market at a rapid pace even without the special protections Bush is advocating," while CJD claims the bill would "wipe out" both the regulatory and legal safeguards against certain unsafe vaccines, drugs and devices, "leaving the industry completely off the hook for hurting American citizens."

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