Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Medical News: Supreme Court Sides With Vaccine Maker - in Washington-Watch, Washington Watch from MedPage Today

The Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 that a federal law shields drug companies from being sued over injuries caused by childhood vaccines.

The case was brought by the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, now a young adult, and charges that she developed a seizure disorder after receiving her third dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine when she was 6 months old. She has suffered developmental problems ever since, and will likely require medical attention for the rest of her life, her parents say.

The dose of the vaccine in question, TRI-IMMUNOL, came from a lot that generated 65 reports of adverse reactions, including 39 emergency room visits, six hospitalizations, and two deaths, according to documents from the U.S. appeals court that heard the case in 2009.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 created a so-called "vaccine court" to address safety claims in an attempt to ease the threat of lawsuits in state courts against pharmaceutical companies and insure against them pulling out of what they claim is an unprofitable vaccine marketplace completely.

Under the law, people injured by vaccines are eligible for compensation for medical care, rehabilitation, counseling, special education, and vocational training expenses; diminished earning capacity; pain and suffering; and $250,000 for vaccine-related deaths.

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