Monday, March 15, 2010

Court Rules Mercury-Containing Immunizations are Good for You... so go back to sleep

Court Rules Against Autism-Vaccine Link
MONDAY, 15 MARCH 2010 11:15

A special United States “vaccine court” dismissed three cases
Friday that were attempting to establish a link between
mercury-containing immunizations and autism, prompting
outrage among parents convinced of the connection.

Critics have accused the hearings of impropriety, citing the
fact that the Department of Health and Human Services was
a defendant in the case while producing and funding much
of the evidence purporting to exonerate the vaccines at taxpayer expense.
Mother Laura Bono, for example, one of the parents whose case was
dismissed, called the process “dysfunctional” and said that the law only
provides the illusion of having a day in court.

Other parents were equally disappointed by the ruling. "The deck is stacked
against families in vaccine court,” charged mother Rebecca Estepp of the
Coalition for Vaccine Safety. “Government attorneys defend a government
program, using government-funded science, before government judges.
Where's the justice in that?" After the rulings, an attorney for the group also
said it would seek congressional intervention and that several government
experts had provided fraudulent testimony.

Other organizations are also calling the proceedings into question. "Find
me another industry where the U.S. government defends their product in
court and funds the science that exonerates them," said Generation Rescue
founder J.B. Handley, also the father of an autistic child. "The average
citizen has no hope."

Analysts said the decision dealt a severe blow to the more than 5,300
similar cases pending before the special court, part of the U.S. Court
of Federal Claims. In 1986, the federal government created the courts
and established a tax-funded “National Vaccine Injury Compensation
Program” to pay victims and protect drug companies from liability.

In the court decisions, the judge-like Special Masters ruled that the
science did not support the mercury-autism link. "The Meads believe
that [mercury-based preservative] thimerosal-containing vaccines
caused William's regressive autism,” wrote Special Master George
Hastings, a former tax expert with the Department of Justice, in his
ruling. “The undersigned finds that the Meads have not presented a
scientifically sound theory." The other two cases were thrown out using
similar arguments.

For years, countless parents of children with autism have blamed
mercury in vaccines for the illness. Mercury is, after all, a known
neurotoxin with devastating effects on the human body. But the
movement was dealt another blow earlier this year when a respected
medical journal retracted a prominent study claiming a link existed.

However, the pro-mercury camp also came under fire recently. Dr. Poul
Thorsen, a scientist working for the U.S. government who published
one of the most important studies used to debunk the mercury-autism
link, is now being investigated for embezzling millions of taxpayer
dollars. The study in question has also attracted widespread criticism
for its methodology.

Despite the angered parents, however, some groups saw the court ruling
as a positive step in putting the issue to rest. "It's time to move forward
and look for the real causes of autism," explained Autism Science
Foundation President Alison Singer. "There is not a bottomless pit of
money with which to fund autism science. We have to use our scarce
resources wisely."

But the battle is still far from over, according to anti-mercury campaigners.
Appeals to the vaccine court ruling are considered very likely. And last
week, the Supreme Court agreed to review the law exempting vaccine
makers from liability.

The case against pharmaceutical giant Wyeth is expect to begin in the
fall. After receiving the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, a six-month-old
girl began suffering a series of complications including seizures. An appeals
court in Pennsylvania ruled that the parents could not sue the drug maker
because of the 1986 law creating the vaccine courts that specifically
shielded manufacturers from liability. But a conflicting ruling in Georgia
said some lawsuits could be brought under state law, so the Supreme Court
is now expected to resolve the matter.

The battle over whether mercury in vaccines is linked to the epidemic of
autism will continue to rage for a long time to come. Polls suggest at least
one in four parents still believe there is a connection. But regardless of
what the truth regarding this issue is, federal laws purporting to exempt
manufacturers from liability in the event of adverse reactions are not only
unconstitutional, they are ridiculous. Why should tax payers assume the
risk while drug companies rake in billions? The special courts and the law
which created them should be dismantled so that evidence can be heard
in a proper venue.

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