Vaccine Plan Protects Drug Companies, Hurts Victims

Does the drug industry really need another hand-out?

Instead of calming the public's fears of a bird flu pandemic, some in Congress and the drug industry are trying to capitalize on it. Specifically, supporters of vaccine manufacturers are trying to slip a proposal through Congress that would provide unprecedented immunity to drug companies for any harm caused by deadly or defective drugs and vaccines - all under the pretense that it is needed to increase vaccine supplies.

The proposal could even cover drugs unrelated to flu pandemic, leaving victims with no recourse, even in cases of gross negligence on the part of the pharmaceutical companies who produce the drugs.

The drug industry and its friends will tell you that litigation has caused a crisis in vaccine production - BUT IT'S JUST NOT TRUE! Over the last two decades there have been fewer than a dozen reported flu vaccine lawsuits and experts agree that liability concerns are not affecting vaccine production.

In fact, limiting the liability of drug companies could actually make a pandemic worse by discouraging Americans from getting vaccinated. When Congress passed similar smallpox vaccine legislation, many first responders simply refused to get vaccinated.

Time is running out! We only have until December 12 to remind Congress that their job is to protect our rights, not increase drug company profits!
Dear Congressional Leader,

I respectfully ask that you oppose current efforts to attach immunity protections for vaccine producers and drug companies to unspecified legislation in the House or Senate, without an opportunity for the proposal to be debated in either body.

As well, I ask that you encourage your colleagues in the Senate to oppose this effort. This proposal would protect drug companies at the expense of American families.

Some versions of the proposal would even offer immunity to the makers of a broad array of drugs that would have little to do with a flu emergency. For example, if someone takes Tylenol to treat flu symptoms and becomes ill or dies, the makers of Tylenol may be protected from a lawsuit even though it had almost nothing to do with the actual pandemic. And through virtually insurmountable administrative and bureaucratic hurdles, it would be nearly impossible for the average American to seek justice- even in cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

In an effort to increase vaccine supply, the current proposal would allow unprecedented legal protections for drug companies, who claim lawsuits are preventing vaccine production. This immunity is unnecessary and will ensure families have virtually no recourse when drugs or vaccines cause injury or death.

In fact, experts agree lawsuits do not affect vaccine production at all. There have been fewer than a dozen flu vaccine lawsuits during the past two decades. That's why letting drug companies off the hook when their products cause injury will not increase the production of vaccines. Further, independent reports and the companies' own financial records show that a massive investment in vaccine development has already been undertaken without Congress compromising the rights of citizens.

The special protections in this proposal would allow the drug industry to increase their profits at the expense of the health and safety of the American people, leaving families injured by defective vaccines or ordinary drugs covered under this sweeping proposal virtually defenseless when they seek justice for injury or death. Lawsuits are not slowing vaccine production, and shielding negligent companies from wrongdoing and gross negligence would only result in hurting countless working families.

Please oppose this or any plan that protects the drug companies, but leaves victims without a just and adequate remedy when they are harmed through no fault of their own.
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