Friday, February 17, 2006

Dr. Quackenbush is in

The new experimental bird flu vaccines may not be very good at raising immunity in humans, but they are potent initiators of immunity from law suits, thanks to Dr. Frist and the Republican attack brigade against a citizen's "day in court."
The government won't wait for bird flu to hit U.S. shores before granting liability protections to vaccine manufacturers and others that make products needed to battle a pandemic.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Monday that the administration soon would enter into contracts for bird flu vaccine, rapid tests to detect the virus, and technology that would make the available vaccine go further.

"At some point in that process, we'll need to deal with the issue of liability," he told reporters.
In December, Congress gave Leavitt the authority to declare when products are necessary "countermeasures" for a public health emergency. The manufacturers and distributors of such products will have sweeping liability protections.

Under the protections, people injured by a vaccine against bird flu would have to prove willful misconduct to bring a claim for damages. Critics have said that such a high threshold would make it almost impossible for people injured by a drug to file a lawsuit. (AP)
This is another example of how the rather paltry sums that bought Frist and his colleagues were a terrific investment for Big Pharma. The sleazy way Frist inserted the immunity provisions into the Defense bill after it was signed off on by House and Senate conferees is now the subject of nasty exchanges. But the deed has been done and the malpractice is squarely on the doorstep of Dr. Quackenbush, the Senate Majority Leader.