A Court Designed To Protect Patients — And Vaccine Makers
NPR looks at the no-fault compensation program established in 1986 after a series of big lawsuits against vaccine makers. The goal was to make the legal process more efficient for litigants, while ensuring that manufacturers continue to supply the shots. Meanwhile, a study suggests that even with special training, doctors struggled to convince vaccine-resistant families to inoculate their children.
Vaccine Court Aims To Protect Patients And Vaccines
The court administers a no-fault compensation program that serves as an alternative to the traditional U.S. tort system. The program was established in 1986, after a series of high-profile lawsuits against drug companies. A number of children had serious adverse reactions — including seizures and brain damage — that appeared to be linked to the diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccine, or DPT vaccine (this version was later replaced by the DTaP vaccine). The parents filed lawsuits against the makers of the DTP vaccine and in at least two cases, won awards worth millions of dollars. (Kelto, 6/2)
Are The Vaccine Court's Requirements Too Strict?
The vaccine injury compensation program was designed to make the legal process that governs vaccines more efficient, and to encourage a steady supply of the life-saving shots. A 75-cents surcharge added to the price of every dose of vaccine funds the program and the monetary awards. Today, some cases before the court are more clear-cut than that of Nicholas Wildman. Sometimes, there is clear scientific evidence of a link between a vaccine and a rare side effect. In these cases, the case is fast-tracked, and victims are compensated quickly. A list of known vaccine injuries facilitates the process. But often, the court is presented with cases more like that of the Wildmans — a compelling story, but with little or no scientific evidence to support the claim that the vaccine caused the injury. (Kelto, 6/3)
Even With Training, Doctors Struggle To Convince Parents To Vaccinate
Training physicians in communication skills may not make it any easier for them to convince vaccine-resistant parents to inoculate their babies, a study suggests. Researchers invited physicians at 30 clinics in Washington state to attend 45-minute classes led by a pediatric immunization expert and health educator. But doctors who attended the sessions were no better at lowering vaccine resistance than their colleagues at 26 other clinics where training wasn’t offered. (Rapaport, 6/2)