Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth : Amicus Timor

As I talked about earlier this week, the US Supreme Court is going to hear arguments in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth next week. This case has to do with whether vaccine manufacturers are directly liable for damages cause by their products.

The issues in the case aren't really about vaccines, the vaccine program in this country, or even autism but rather center on what the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was meant to do. Was the intent of Congress to protect vaccine manufacturers from virtually all claims of defects or wasn't it?

But, that hasn't stopped certain parties from filing a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court saying that overturning the status quo would lead to massive harm to the country, the return of all of the banished childhood diseases, and cause puppies everywhere to spontaneously jump of the nearest bridge.

OK, I made that last one up, but the brief is full of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It has nothing to do with the legal issues at hand and everything to do with making the justices fearful of upsetting the status quo.  You don't even need to read the entire brief to get the point, the titles of the sections are quite enough to get the point across -

I. Vaccine Development Is One Of The Greatest Public Health Achievements Of The Twentieth Century

II. Congress Enacted The Vaccine Act To Provide Adequate Compensation To Children Injured By Vaccines And To Safeguard The Nation’S Vaccine Supply

A. The Costs Of Vaccine-Related Litigation Had Threatened To Halt Vaccine Production In The United States

B. The Tort System Had Failed To Provide Adequate Compensation For Children Injured By Vaccines

C. The Vaccine Act Provides Adequate Compensation To Children Injured By Vaccines And Ensures The Stability Of The Vaccine Market And The Nation’S Vaccine Supply

III. Petitioners’ Interpretation Of The Vaccine Act Poses A Threat To The Future Production And Development Of Vaccines

A. Unpredictable Litigation Costs Could Once Again Force Vaccine Manufacturers To Abandon Or Consider Abandoning The Vaccine Market

B. The Progress That Has Been Made In Vaccine Development Since The Passage Of The Vaccine Act Could Come To A Halt

It really is a shame that the American Academy of Pediatrics and twenty one other medical organizations are so threatened by possible change that they feel the need to resort to sowing fear.  I expected better from them.


  1. You seriously expected better from them? That is amazing.

    The funniest part of all those titles is this bit:
    The Vaccine Act Provides Adequate Compensation To Children Injured By Vaccines And Ensures The Stability Of The Vaccine Market And The Nation’S Vaccine Supply

    Methinks they are a hell of a lot more concerned about the vaccine supply than the injured children. Most of those injured have no chance, ever, of receiving compensation. And none of those organizations care at all.

  2. Perhaps I should have said that I expected them to show more respect to the Supreme Court and not try to and over-hype the situation.

  3. Thanks MJ, for the clarification. I think I understand what you meant.

  4. I haven't had a chance to read through in full. I know that the lawyers filed the brief on behalf of the APA, but does anyone know if they mentioned anyone in specific? I'm almost 100% positive of at least one name, but I'm curious if there are others.