Supreme Court Ruling a Victory for Kids’ Health, Accountability

By February 23, 2011Briefly Legal, Health Care

Hans von Spakovsky at the Heritage Foundation explains why the Supreme Court’s 6-2 opinion released Tuesday in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth is so important to children’s health. From “Supreme Court Ruling On Vaccines Keeps Kids Safe“:

I don’t usually feel a personal connection to a Supreme Court decision, but as the parent of three children, I was elated (and relieved) to see the Court come to the right conclusion today in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth. The Court’s holding that state tort suits against vaccine manufacturers are preempted by federal law is absolutely crucial to maintaining the continued availability of the many vaccines that protect the lives and health of tens of millions of Americans, particular school-age children like mine.

Hans notes the collapse of the “vaccines-cause autism” claims, which were even mocked recently in Doonesbury.

Pfizer, which now owns Wyeth, issued a news release on the ruling Tuesday, “U.S. Supreme Court Decision In Bruesewitz V. Wyeth A Win For Public Health.”

For extensive commentary on the ruling and federal preemption, including the relevance to manufacturers, see Jim Beck’s discussion at the Drug and Device Law Blog, “Notes on Bruesewitz.” Beck is really good.

1) Express preemption has more friends on the Court than implied preemption.
(2) The great DTP versus DPT controversy has been definitively settled in favor of DTP. As we recall from doing vaccine cases pre-Act, that’s a defense win.
(3) Vaccines have successfully staked a claim to the ultimate public good in our sandbox, and the Supreme Court knows it.
(4) Vaccine manufacturers were “immunized” from warning claims before (assuming compliance) and with design claims now barred, the only thing really left for a non-listed-injury vaccine plaintiff is a defective manufacture/violation claim. This result could create pressure to list more injuries as within the program.

Beck makes 22 points in all.

UPDATE Wall Street Journal editorializes, concluding: “The trial bar has preyed on parents, especially those of autistic children, by telling them someone is to blame for their child’s diagnosis. Study after scientific study has debunked these claims, and the Supreme Court’s decision will at least prevent the lawyers from cashing in by exploiting heartache.”

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