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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 10, 2010

Vaccines in the Court

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Posted by Derek

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a vaccine-liability case, in an attempt to untangle conflicting lower court rulings. This all turns on the 1986 act that shields manufacturers from liability suits and a followup law that establishes a separate compensation system for injuries. A Georgia Supreme Court ruling has recently held that such suits can go on in state court, which seems to contradict other court decisions (and the intent of the 1986 law as well, you'd think).

I agree with Jim Edwards of BNET that although this particular case involves the DPT vaccine, the vaccines-cause-autism crowd will be watching this one very closely. Lawsuits will no doubt be ready to fly later this year in case the Supreme Court breaks that way - which seems to me unlikely, but I'm no judge. . .

Comments (17) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Autism | Regulatory Affairs | Toxicology


COMMENTS

1. Jonathan on March 10, 2010 12:12 PM writes...

Great, we're going to get a 5-4 verdict stating that vaccines do cause Autism.

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2. rogi on March 10, 2010 12:44 PM writes...

The irony (or perhaps more appropriate) lunacy about thiomerosal as the causative agent for autism is that it was used liberally on all kids and adults years back as tincture of merthiolate (1:1000)aka mercurochrome on all sorts of cuts, scrapes, etc for decades and at concentrations of thimerosal orders of magnitude greater and much more frequently than what one encounters in a vaccine. Perhaps if we took blood levels of mercury of lawyers vs. the rest of the general population, one might be able to come to some correlation between autistic (self serving) behaviour and intelligence.

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3. nacbrie on March 10, 2010 1:18 PM writes...

@ rogi: Um, autistic = self-serving?

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4. retread on March 10, 2010 1:48 PM writes...

The avoidance of thiomersal in the vaccine for the pandemic flu was one of the reasons it was so late. For the sordid details (based on testimony before congress by Dr. Nicole Lurie chief of the poorly named chief of "preparedness and response for the Health and Human Services Department' ) see http://luysii.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/idiocy-has-consequences-ii/

As H. L. Mencken said about Prohibition — the humble swineherd will put us all in his pen.

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5. Jessica on March 10, 2010 4:07 PM writes...

Not a very scientific comment, but out of the millions and millions of people vaccinated every year, what tiny percentage of those people end up autistic? And who's to say that it's not something else, like antibiotics, or eating out of plastic containers, chemical preservatives in the food, etc that causes it?? I just can't buy into the idea that vaccines cause autism.

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6. Hap on March 10, 2010 4:33 PM writes...

True, but in lots of cases (contamination of water with waste dumps, for example), the effects are pretty small, and it's difficult but possible for epidemiologists to sort out what's going on. Small effects can be seen, if you look hard enough and have enough people (hence drug trials' size).

In this case, there isn't any evidence to support a link, and lots of people have looked - but evidence doesn't really seem to matter. There's an alloy of a lot of beliefs with which the "vaccines cause autism" meme fits really well, and so it's an awfully hard thing to give up for the people to believe in it. Unfortunately, their psychic comfort involves the deaths of an awful lot of people, and so is worthy of disturbance.

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7. retread on March 10, 2010 4:42 PM writes...

#5 Jessica: It's a perfectly scientific comment.

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8. lame_saint on March 10, 2010 4:44 PM writes...

So what? Perhaps a side effect of vaccines IS autism. Medicines have always had a long history of horrible side-effects. I mean, come on, anti-depressants can give you suicidal thoughts, right?

Basically, I'm trying to say that vaccines save countless people from horrible fates. It's tragic that some folks wind up with autism, but the benefit still outweighs the potential loss.

BTW Rogi, I don't think you said what you intended to say about autism. Autism does not translate to "self serving".

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9. George Kaplan on March 10, 2010 4:53 PM writes...

I rather hope it's a reference to the root of "autism" in the Greek "autos", or "self".

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10. FreeSpeaker on March 10, 2010 6:11 PM writes...

There will be no 5-4 decision since Roberts has recused himself. As for the "vaccines cause autism crowd" (I prefer to refer to them as the drones or lemmings), they will not just watch. You can expect an upsurge in their attacks on proponents of vaccines, scientists who conduct research that shows their is no link, and just about every nefarious tactic to more their evil cause along. They recently fabricated a story about a Danish researcher (read about it on Left Brain/Right Brain.)

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11. rogi on March 10, 2010 7:48 PM writes...

#2 and #7: My comment was a muddled sarcastic rejoinder. Tort lawyers involved in prosecuting this vaccine/autism venue are unwilling (vs incabable for those tragically affected with this disorder) to reasonably discuss or listen to arguments about other possible causes of this condition.

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12. Thought_this_was_done on March 10, 2010 10:57 PM writes...

Finally Lancet retracts the paper, and now this? Unfortunately, in the politically-divided judicial system, I think there may be a few justices who want to battle manufacturers of vaccines for just the cry from the Vaccine-Autism crowd.

Ultimately the 1986 act is a "get out of jail free card", and though when the FDA approves, and the vaccine is prepared as safe as can be....this act allows people such as the Vaccine-Autism crowd (and the crazier group...the US created AIDS...and has the cure) to point to corruption.

Whenever I run across the crazies (e.g. US Gov has the cure to AIDS), I simply remind them of 2 traits of people, vanity and greed. If anyone was able cure AIDS and remove it from infected individuals chromosomes, don't you think they would be telling everyone....and want to get paid? That is beyond the fact, that I have never met an scientist who ultimately didn't believe there work can lead to helping others. Maybe I am naive and haven't been around enough (I never knew anyone who forged data)...but the goodness of all the scientists I have encountered is without a doubt in my eyes.

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13. Freeform on March 11, 2010 1:19 AM writes...

I don't see autistics as any more "self-serving" than anyone else, how well they do serve themselves? Structured, (of interests?) and reliant on structure, yes, but I see that in so much of everyone, some more than others, like, with me, conclusions are, oh, so, "over-rated?".. .

I figure that that's the right spirit, of objectivity, if not science itself? where you examine the record? of history? (and structured folks, well, they're not so much about that? but I'm not *really* being conclusive about that) It also seems that autistics (some of "us," of sorts? No, not me, gads!?.) can't lie or handle lies (incongruities?) very well (limited intellectual capacity, perhaps) as documented as that is, if not in the diagnostic manual, so they get "abused" rather "easily," so dependent (and limited) of the "structure" of the truth as they are, and that can't help their cause much (political cause?) I wouldn't think

Maybe that's why so many of them are techies and engineers or "whatever" (but never philosophers, right?) the more higher functioning ones, I mean. Would that also include lovers of Shakespeare and language-files generally? Well, that does tend to be about structure, for whatever that's worth? [.. .]

Let's call autistics as defined (if not limited, if not disordered?) by "structure," (rather than self-serving) shall we? and question ourselves, Thereof? This is a hit-and-run, (or sorts?) I have so little authority, otherwise.. .

Demeaning autitics folks is not, intelligent? helpful? understanding? (humane?)(conscionable, with me) especially where there wouldn't be any around to answer for themselves or defend themselves, I would say, of, my speaking for "us" of "all" of us, of our integrity and structure, by as much, for one and All, Thereof

Peace be with you, where The choice is y/ours, Thereof, and not so much otherwise.. .

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14. stuff on March 11, 2010 10:05 AM writes...

Differt case but: Judge throws out libel claim agains journalist writing about vaccine/autism
http://www.amy-wallace.com/2010/03/10/1-million-lawsuit-dismissed/

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15. Anonymous on March 12, 2010 4:40 AM writes...

Come on people! Are you adults or are we still playing in the sandbox? "Autism" isn't just a silly word for name-calling lawyers and such. It's a crippling disease that leaves its victims unable to care for themselves. The same goes for Aspergers. Such children cannot become any more socially competent by telling them. It'd be about as sensible as telling a short child to be taller.

But, tragic as such cases are, we're still faced with the fact that we don't know what exactly causes these diseases. There is data on what doesn't cause them, such as vaccination, but that doesn't resolve the question itself. As for the court case, it's a product of the American justice system.

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16. Thought_this_was_done on March 12, 2010 11:46 PM writes...

RE: #13,

I sincerely hope you don't take my previous comments as demeaning Austistics. But what do you say to the parents who refused to vaccinate their children and have been part of recent Measles outbreaks in Great Britain, and Minnesota. These vaccines were developed to stop deadly infectious diseases that killed of millions of our children 50 years ago.

#15 said is best, the fact is, we don't have a cure for Autism. But we do have vaccines against deadly infectious diseases that have shown tremendous efficacy with relatively low side effects. I am afraid that these small communities who continue to champion the cause of Vaccines cause Autism will only further introduce these deadly infectious diseases back into our society. I really hope we find the cause for Autism, and develop a cure for it, but until that time, I believe we need to maintain our public health policies.

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17. Glen on March 23, 2010 2:30 PM writes...

The problem with all the studies is that they do not account for the possibility of the vaccine occurring during a critical period of brain plasticity. If one holds, like I do, that there is one somewhere around 18-36 months then there is a possibility that some agent may have an adverse effect on that process. The immune response from a vaccine may do it, so might certain food additives.....

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20299216

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