for immediate release
November 15, 2005 5:00 PM


Washington, D.C. - A behind-the-scenes plan is reportedly taking shape in
Congress to attach language to an unspecified conference report giving drug
companies blanket immunity from liability for vaccine injuries and deaths.

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a watchdog consumer advocacy
group critical of provisions in "The Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and
Drug Development Act of 2005" (S. 1873) sponsored by Senator Richard Burr
(R-NC) and a similar bill in the House (H.R. 3970), calls the reported plan
"an end-run by Pharma's friends in Congress to take away the civil rights of
the American people."

In the past few weeks, public criticism about the proposed bail-out of drug
companies has been mounting as Americans are being told that a pandemic bird
flu is coming and drug companies are asking Congress to bar citizen access
to the civil justice system when they are harmed by vaccines. Because the
bird flu virus has not mutated into a form that is transmissable from human
to human, questions have been raised as to whether irrational fear about
bird flu is being generated in an attempt to stampede Congress into passing
liability protections the pharmaceutical industry has been seeking for 40

Pointing out that there are twice as many drug companies marketing vaccines
in the
U.S. today as there were in 1982 when NVIC was founded, NVIC
President Barbara Loe Fisher said, "It is a big lie that drug companies have
been driven out of business by lawsuits in the past two decades. The
National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 protected drug companies and
doctors from almost all lawsuits. There are only a handful of vaccine injury
lawsuits pending in civil courts but Pharma is on the brink of conning
Congress into destroying Americans' Seventh Amendment Constitutional right
to seek redress in a civil court in front of a jury of their peers.

Apparently drug companies only want profits and not accountability when
Americans die or are injured by experimental and poorly tested biodefense
and pandemic flu vaccines they can be forced to take whenever the Secretary
of Health and Human Services declares a public health emergency and state
officials follow suit."

In a November 15th letter to Senator Burr's staff director, U.S. Senate
Subcommittee on Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness, NVIC President
Barbara Loe Fisher describes S. 1873 as "arguably unconstitutional" because
it (1) lacks transparency into the research, development, licensure and
post-licensure surveillance of vaccines and drugs used in public health
emergencies; (2) lacks accountability for either manufacturers of these
products or government health officials who mandate their use without
informed consent; and (3) lacks justice for those who will inevitably die or
suffer chronic illnesses after being compelled to take these products.

The proposed law will also create a new agency within the Department of
Health and Human Services that will secretly develop experimental drugs and
vaccines to be used by civilian and military populations whenever the
Secretary declares "a potential or actual" public health emergency. The
agency may deny Freedom of Information Act requests by citizens and is not
subject to review of its actions by the judicial branch of government.

In 1982, there were four drug companies marketing vaccines in the
U.S. :
Wyeth, Lederle, Merck and
Connaught . Today there are eight: Wyeth, Merck,
Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune, Chiron, Bioport, and VaxGen.
There are ten vaccine injury lawsuits currently pending in
U.S. civil
courts, with the majority involving a highly reactive whole cell version of
DPT vaccine no longer distributed in the

For more information and a complete text of Barbara Loe Fisher's 11 page
letter to Senator Burr's subcommittee staff, go to .