Federal Vaccine Court Rulings Against Autism Families Due to Government's Refusal to Fund Sound Science
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Autism advocacy organization SafeMinds regrets today's court ruling against three families who argued that vaccination contributed to their child's autism. The denial of compensation was based on inadequate vaccine safety science available to the court. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the defendant in "vaccine court" and is also responsible for carrying out the very vaccine safety research that is used for the court's decisions. This conflict of interest means the deck is stacked against families and is one more reason to doubt the integrity of the National Immunization Program.
"The government has its thumb on the scales of justice," said Jim Moody, director of SafeMinds and an advisor to the Petitioners Steering Committee of the U.S Federal Court of Claims. "The Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passed in 1986 gave immunity to vaccine manufacturers and removed the incentive to create safer products. Meanwhile, the law only gives the illusion that parents will have their day in court. The process is dysfunctional."
Two HHS agencies, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are responsible for vaccine safety research. Even leading vaccine proponents have accused the CDC of carrying out safety research "on the cheap," and two systematic reviews by the Cochrane Collaboration have found vaccines studies to be of "poor quality" and "inadequate." The NIH director in charge of autism, Dr. Tom Insel, admitted that HHS's court cases prevent NIH from conducting autism-vaccine science. Last month, the government-dominated autism advisory committee blocked vaccine-autism studies from moving forward despite requests by their own scientific advisors and autism advocates. HHS gives billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies to produce for-profit vaccines, and the CDC spends billions of dollars to expand the immunization of Americans, yet the CDC spends only $20 million on safety studies. Even this modest research is off-limits to the families' lawyers while the government's lawyers are allowed access.
"A neutral agency must initiate an extensive safety program, including studies of the health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups," stated Sallie Bernard, executive director of SafeMinds. "Otherwise, trust in immunization will continue to deteriorate."
Over 5,000 petitions have been filed alleging vaccine damage to the developing brain and other immune and metabolic pathways giving rise to an autism diagnosis. The court has awarded approximately $5 million in compensation for such cases. Most cases are quietly settled, leaving the public in the dark. While the government has linked vaccine injury to autism, today's ruling demonstrates the legal process is arbitrary. Only sound science can say which and how many children with autism have a vaccine injury.
SafeMinds recognizes the bravery of the three families who now face a lifetime of inadequate support for their disabled children.