Will Congress Give Vaccine Makers a Shot in the Arm?

National Law Journal
Friday, December 16, 2005

Fear of lawsuits, hostility toward trial lawyers, short-sightedness and pandering to special interests are behind a Republican-led effort to enact quickly unprecedented vaccine liability protection for drug manufacturers and sellers with little or no compensation for injured victims in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak, say a host of health, consumer, union and other groups. 

Many of those groups have joined together in an effort to force into the open what have been closed-door negotiations by Senate and House Republicans over a plan to attach the liability waiver to a pending Department of Defense appropriations bill expected to pass both chambers before the year's end.  


But various Hill sources contend that Republican leaders are only preparing the immunity side of the equation for amendment to the Defense appropriations bill. And that section has been expanded to allow the secretary to waive liability under certain emergency conditions. 

"The immunity there is fairly broad," said Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice & Democracy. "It doesn't allow any lawsuit for gross negligence or recklessness. In order for even a claim of intentional misconduct, the secretary of HHS would have to designate it as such before a suit could go forward and there's no compensation at all."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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