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Supreme Court Ruling in Wyeth Case Strikes Appropriate Balance

By a vote of 6-2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday that federal law prohibits lawsuits against drugmakers by people who claim to suffer from health problems caused by vaccines given to them as a child. The case was brought against Wyeth, a large Pennsylvania pharmaceutical manufacturer, by the parents of a 19-year-old woman who they say suffers from side effects of a drug she was given as a baby.

I think the court, in this specific case, struck the appropriate balance. Of note is the fact that more than 2500 people have received close to two billion dollars thus far from similar claims without having to prove that the vaccine they took was in any way defective. The likelihood is that the vast majority, if not all of these people, would have received no compensation whatsoever had they been forced to prove in court that the vaccine was defective.

My feeling is the special “Vaccine Court” set-up by Congress works well for the manufacturers, and it works well for children, as Justice Scalia, writing for the court, pointed out in the ruling.

While the knee-jerk reaction of some might be to criticize the court. I cannot.