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Drugmakers shielded from lawsuits: US Supreme Court

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 16:11 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Vaccine makers are protected from lawsuits, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, dashing the hopes of a US couple who had sought monetary damages after their daughter fell ill after a round of routine childhood inoculations.

By a 6-2 vote, the US high court, in an opinion by written Justice Antonin Scalia, rejected the family’s argument that they should allowed to sue drug maker Wyeth for not making a safer vaccine.

The case concerned Hannah Bruesewitz, who as a six-month-old infant received a series of injections to protect her against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, the illness also known as whooping cough.

The family, from the northeastern state of Pennsylvania, found that after the third injection, the cognitive development of their now-teenaged daughter slowed dramatically and she developed seizures and other health problems that continue to this day.

The family insists that the girl’s medical problems were a side-effect of the vaccine; Wyeth, the manufacturer, over the years has steadfastly denied any link exists between the girl’s condition and its vaccine.

The US high court ruled that the vaccine maker, which is owned by Pfizer Inc, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, is not subject to the liability laws that govern some other products.

The court ruled that design-defect lawsuits were preempted by a 1986 law, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which created a national compensation program for vaccine-injury claims, and also gave vaccine makers protection from some lawsuits.

The law allows for complaints to be brought before a special tribunal; the family early had pleaded and lost its case before that panel.

The ruling also affirms a lower court decision that also had found in favor of Wyeth.

In a statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics hailed the ruling.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision protects children by strengthening our national immunization system and ensuring that vaccines will continue to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in this country,” the physicians’ group’s president Marion Burton said.

“Today, the US Supreme Court affirmed what pediatricians have been advocating for decades” Burton said. “Vaccines save lives.”

Wyeth, meanwhile, in a statement released Tuesday said it also was “pleased.”

“We have great sympathy for the Bruesewitzes. We recognize, however, that the Vaccine Act provides for full consideration of the liability issues through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

“Here the Vaccine Court concluded that the petitioners failed to prove their child’s condition was caused by vaccination,” the company statement said.

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  • Anonymous

    Who cares who we kill as long as we make a profit.
    This Country Sucks

  • nycplayboy78

    AMEN!!!

    I am so dismayed by the Supremes ruling :(

    I wish it had been one of their children/grand-children that would have died and maybe they would have saw the case differently….SCUMBAGS!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Frontline put out a documentary called “Vaccine Wars” showing evidence that vaccinating children with 6 shots at once is causal to declines in children’s health. Very few know what exactly is in these vaccines- Mercury is just one ingredient that should strike parents. Pharmaceutical companies hire researchers to perform tests that are favorable to them. In reality, the FEW who have conducted research proving these shots can cause serious health problems in children have been discredited and/or silenced.

    This is just another clear example of Corporate America having control over Government.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    Time for someone on the inside with a conscience to leak the dirt on these drug companies.

  • Anonymous

    If you cannot grease the palms, you get nothing but bs from the powers that be. I gave up trusting the judges.

  • Anonymous

    Do the koch brothers give scalia a reach around?

  • Anonymous

    So, why will the vaccine manufacturers every worry about making a safe vaccine ever again?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/LEUDUVF5EGJZRZETF3KV53P7BQ Thomas

    One reason why I don’t get any vaccines. No flu shot. No pig flu shot. No shot period. This should also be the way every parent should be with their kids. If the drug makers, who have obviously shoved a lot of cash up the supreme court justices asses, can’t be sued for bad vaccines, then NO parent should get a vaccination for their kids.

  • Brimstone Hill

    But if you sell a fucking rotten tomato to your neighbor and he develops the shits, then he can sue you for everything you own.
    Fascism=SCOTUS

  • Anonymous

    No, they wouldn’t care one way or the other, most likely. Feeling about humans is not something I would place within them.

  • Anonymous

    Notice? a “1986″ law… something else to thank that piece of sh!t Reagan for!

  • Anonymous

    “What I know is America, and down here you’re on your own!”

    Apologies to the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan!

  • nycplayboy78

    Sad my friend but true at the same time :(

  • surgethis

    soon there will me no justice for the people and we will have to take to the streets and pull down these traitors from their cushy seats.

  • surgethis

    keep pushing the corporate state down our throats. eventually we will be at your door.

  • Anonymous

    Only 2 “justices” voted for the family and child? 6 of them voted for big pharma and allowing them to pretty much put whatever crap drug they want on the market and not be liable? My question is who didn’t vote and who voted the wrong way. THIS IS JUST SICK. We need to demand that any judge who rules against people and for corporations be subject to an investigation into their finances and associations.

  • Anonymous

    sadly it wasn’t just him, 5 others voted with him…. just disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    they won’t

  • Anonymous

    yeah right, Americans are self centered idiots who only care when something happens to them. As long as big business and the republicans destroy our country little by little people won’t do jack or shit.

  • Anonymous

    Vaccines are safer than getting mumps, pertussis, polio, small pox, hepatitis, and many others. Being packed in like sardines, humanity has become one big biological warfare plague machine. Vaccines are the only thing keeping us healthy and alive.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t know why Raw Story’s article doesn’t mention it, other than just sloppy reporting, but I read elsewhere that Kagan recused herself and Bader Ginsburg and Sotomayer voted the right way, all the others kissed pharma’s ass.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GCPX7DXZGK2H2CPNYRR5IS5A64 Turnip Mcgee

    Is there a vaccine for Fascism ?

  • Anonymous

    Truth.

  • Anonymous

    What’d ya expect from these butte-wads? SCOTUS needs to be dissolved since their role does not serve real Americans any longer. Only the Federal government and corporations benefit from these rulings. How long has it been since we’ve seen the little guy win a ruling with the Supremes?

  • Spire

    … and let’s not forget the dirt on the Supremes!! the damndest group of corporate fuckwads we have ever had on the big bench.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GTBM3NK2S3QOM4LFPXTLIOM3NY Carol

    Agreed! Actually, I don’t think there is any justice for the people now. And things won’t change till we take to the streets in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. I think that day will come. The protests in the Middle East, Greece, Wisconsin & elsewhere are the beginning of a worldwide revolution. The working people & poor against the corporations & those who run them – that is the real division in this world and all conflicts can be seen in this framework, including this ruling.

  • Anonymous

    “Vaccines are safer than getting mumps, pertussis, polio, small pox, hepatitis, and many others.”

    Vaccines *were* safer. Remember that America’s goal is a so-called “Free Market”; regardless of your opinion of that label and what it might entail, any corporation has as it’s very first responsibility to maximize profits. There are no moral or ethical repercussions to a corporations beyond fines and awards of damages to influence their bad behavior, apart from voluntary purchasing from competitors or not purchasing at all, neither of which is applicable here for most people.

    In other words, the inoculation makers now have absolutely no reason to keep quality high or make decisions based on safety rather than profit. They don’t even need to prove purity or effectiveness…

  • Anonymous

    The rich have immunized themselves from the rest of us. A nearby hospital is touting the hire and appointment of an Intern turned MBA as director of emergency medicine. I don’t want an MBA mindset making emergency medical decisions for me or anyone else. The drug companies are moving drug production off shore to avoid FDA scrutiny. There have been many recent cases calling into question the potency and safety of these drugs. We are no better than lab animals to the rich. They have already formed a separate society. Gated communities. Private airlines. Private resorts. Personal legislators. Because I am old and often in pain my doctor is trying to take my freedom because I indicated I might just want to exit now.

  • YeaSayer

    Congress deserves most of the blame for creating legal loopholes which shield big corporations from responsibility. SCOTUS can’t nullify every bad law Congress creates.

  • Anonymous

    Guess most posters here haven’t ever witnessed someone (or a child) with “whooping cough”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3akJVesMdvs

    (I’m not a fan of big PhRMA or the present day make-up of SCOTUS – but I’m with them on this one particular issue)

  • http://thetinfoilhatsociety.com/ Susan

    When I was a child we got like 14 vaccines. My grandchild will have in the neighborhood of 70 by the time she reaches adulthood. More and more vaccines for illnesses that have fewer and fewer risks and complications. With less and less UNbiased testing for safety. The first thing I find out when I’m reviewing a study is who it’s sponsored by. This tells me most of what I need to know regarding reliability of results.

    A healthy person, with proper (that’s non GMO food with minimal inputs) nutrition, with good sanitation, clean water, and low stress living, can resist most diseases. Even without vaccines. *except for polio*

    I am not an advocate of the no-vaccine crowd. I just wish people would be discerning; there IS a middle road between the rabid no vaccination stance and the unquestioning get every vaccine stance.

  • Anonymous

    You people are unreal. You all must be the same people that believe in conspiracy theories.While I feel for the family, the child is still alive, she did not develop any of the illness these vaccinations protect against. The article only mentions “she developed seizures and other health problems that continue to this day.” What are the other problems?Seizures are a pain to have I know from experience, I have epilepsy and it is manageable. How severe are her other health problems, notice the article doesn’t mention in detail, maybe because they aren’t that serious, however the illness she might have developed could have caused more serious problems. Smallpox has been eradicated due to worldwide vaccine programs, maybe someday we can look forward to these other diseases and viruses being wiped out too. I for one will continue to vaccinate my children, because I know that the death of a child is far worse than these illnesses.(I lost my 2 month old son to SIDS, I only wish there were a way to prevent that).

    For those that believe these inoculations lead to autism there is strong evidence that it is related to a brain abnormality that occurred during fetal development and possibly genetic hence YOU are the reason your child is the way he is not the pharmaceutical companies.

    DIPHTHERIA causes a thick covering in the back of the throat.
    It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
    TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
    It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in up to 2 out of 10 cases.
    PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks.
    It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death.(cdc.gov)

    Measles

    Measles virus causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye
    irritation, and fever.

    It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures
    (jerking and staring), brain damage, and death.
    Mumps

    Mumps virus causes fever, headache, and swollen
    glands.

    It can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the
    brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of
    the testicles or ovaries, and, rarely, death.
    Rubella (German Measles)

    Rubella virus causes rash, mild fever, and arthritis
    (mostly in women).

    If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she
    could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born
    with serious birth defects.
    (cdc.gov)

  • Anonymous

    You people are unreal. You all must be the same people that believe in conspiracy theories.While I feel for the family, the child is still alive, she did not develop any of the illness these vaccinations protect against. The article only mentions “she developed seizures and other health problems that continue to this day.” What are the other problems?Seizures are a pain to have I know from experience, I have epilepsy and it is manageable. How severe are her other health problems, notice the article doesn’t mention in detail, maybe because they aren’t that serious, however the illness she might have developed could have caused more serious problems. Smallpox has been eradicated due to worldwide vaccine programs, maybe someday we can look forward to these other diseases and viruses being wiped out too. I for one will continue to vaccinate my children, because I know that the death of a child is far worse than these illnesses.(I lost my 2 month old son to SIDS, I only wish there were a way to prevent that).

    For those that believe these inoculations lead to autism there is strong evidence that it is related to a brain abnormality that occurred during fetal development and possibly genetic hence YOU are the reason your child is the way he is not the pharmaceutical companies.

    DIPHTHERIA causes a thick covering in the back of the throat.
    It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
    TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
    It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in up to 2 out of 10 cases.
    PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks.
    It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death.(cdc.gov)

    Measles

    Measles virus causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye
    irritation, and fever.

    It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures
    (jerking and staring), brain damage, and death.
    Mumps

    Mumps virus causes fever, headache, and swollen
    glands.

    It can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the
    brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of
    the testicles or ovaries, and, rarely, death.
    Rubella (German Measles)

    Rubella virus causes rash, mild fever, and arthritis
    (mostly in women).

    If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she
    could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born
    with serious birth defects.
    (cdc.gov)

  • Anonymous

    You people are unreal. You all must be the same people that believe in conspiracy theories.While I feel for the family, the child is still alive, she did not develop any of the illness these vaccinations protect against. The article only mentions “she developed seizures and other health problems that continue to this day.” What are the other problems?Seizures are a pain to have I know from experience, I have epilepsy and it is manageable. How severe are her other health problems, notice the article doesn’t mention in detail, maybe because they aren’t that serious, however the illness she might have developed could have caused more serious problems. Smallpox has been eradicated due to worldwide vaccine programs, maybe someday we can look forward to these other diseases and viruses being wiped out too. I for one will continue to vaccinate my children, because I know that the death of a child is far worse than these illnesses.(I lost my 2 month old son to SIDS, I only wish there were a way to prevent that).

    For those that believe these inoculations lead to autism there is strong evidence that it is related to a brain abnormality that occurred during fetal development and possibly genetic hence YOU are the reason your child is the way he is not the pharmaceutical companies.

    DIPHTHERIA causes a thick covering in the back of the throat.
    It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death.
    TETANUS (Lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
    It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in up to 2 out of 10 cases.
    PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) causes coughing spells so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for weeks.
    It can lead to pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring spells), brain damage, and death.(cdc.gov)

    Measles

    Measles virus causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye
    irritation, and fever.

    It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures
    (jerking and staring), brain damage, and death.
    Mumps

    Mumps virus causes fever, headache, and swollen
    glands.

    It can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the
    brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of
    the testicles or ovaries, and, rarely, death.
    Rubella (German Measles)

    Rubella virus causes rash, mild fever, and arthritis
    (mostly in women).

    If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she
    could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born
    with serious birth defects.
    (cdc.gov)

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GCPX7DXZGK2H2CPNYRR5IS5A64 Turnip Mcgee

    I looked, but cannot find any of this.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GCPX7DXZGK2H2CPNYRR5IS5A64 Turnip Mcgee

    oh take a pill already.

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