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New Bill Could Waive Vaccine Maker Liability
On Dec. 19, the House approved a Republican-initiated list of liability protections for vaccine makers.
To make mass quantities of pandemic vaccines, drug companies say they need protection against lawsuits if the vaccines cause dangerous side effects. The waiver under debate offers injured victims little if any compensation in the event of a pandemic outbreak, except in the case of willful misconduct (as determined by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Servies). This section can be waived in certain emergencies.
Meanwhile, House Democrats who oppose this waiver are putting together a counter-plan. They claim the unprecedented, broad waiver offers the public no protection and will make first responders and others hesitant to use pandemic vaccines. Democratic lawmakers such as Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) are proposing another plan that would provide a compensation plan and a means to sue the government in the event the vaccines cause harm.
The waiver is attached to a pending Department of Defense appropriations bill (Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005) that could pass before the end of the year.