Liability protection allows injuries from pharmaceutical products without
penalty to manufacturers as Senate Majority Leader heralds “Fristmas”
Washington, DC – After procedural maneuverings last week to lessen concerns
over back-room deals that became unrelated additions to the Defense appropriations
bill, the Senate allowed the bill to pass, leaving intact a provision granting
immunity to drug companies from liability for injuries caused by their products.
Children’s advocacy and consumer watchdog organizations are calling this
provision an affront to democracy and civil rights.
The plan to grant sweeping liability protection to drug makers has been years
in the making, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Previous attempts
include the notorious 2002 “Eli Lilly rider” covertly slipped into
the Homeland Security Act under the cover of darkness.
“Such drastic changes to public health and our judicial system should
have been open for public debate, not slipped in surreptitiously to unrelated,
must-pass legislation. These behind-the-scenes tactics were necessary because
of the unconstitutional provision to rob injured citizens of their rights,”
said Wendy Fournier, National Autism Association (NAA) president.
The implications of liability protection for drug companies to families of
vaccine-injured children and first responders who suffer future injuries are
gaining increasing public attention. After Congress established the National
Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in 1986, manufacturers had less incentive
to ensure the safety of vaccines. In 1991, when warned that the mercury used
as a preservative in many childhood vaccines exceeded safety guidelines, industry
ignored the information, allowing an entire generation of children to be overexposed
to one of the most dangerous toxins known to man.
According to NAA board chair Laura Bono, “Families of vaccine-injured
children have witnessed the emotional, physical, and financial devastation caused
by the pharmaceutical industry’s reckless disregard for safety standards.
Now, the misplaced priorities of Senate leadership have sacrificed public health
and basic civil rights to the greed of an industry willing to overlook safety
concerns for the sake of profit.”
If enacted, such legislation will allow for no acceptable legal remedy for
those injured by vaccines, including first responders required to receive vaccines
when mandated by government.
In comments following last week’s vote, Senator Frist referred to the
upcoming holiday season as “Fristmas”. Ms. Bono observed, “Evidently,
‘Fristmas’ means the pharmaceutical industry gets a four billion
dollar gift and complete liability protection for their products from our politicians.
No other industry has enjoyed the marriage between government and private business
to the extent of today’s pharmaceutical companies. I am afraid for American
citizens who could be one shot away from a lifelong disability far worse than
the disease it was meant to prevent and be left with no legal recourse for pursuing
compensation for their injuries. We should all be very concerned about the future
of public health and civil rights now that the rules have changed so drastically.”
For more information, go to www.nationalautism.org