Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Autism testimony resumes in vaccine court[c]
GOOD MORNING FLINT! BY Terry Bankert 5/13/08
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Under a two-decades-old program, individuals claiming injury from a vaccine must file a petition for "no-fault" compensation with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The secretary of Health and Human Services replaces the vaccine manufacturer or vaccine administrator to defend the claim.[w]

AN ARGUMENT FOR GOVERNMENTAL REGULATION For the second time this year, families claiming that vaccinations triggered autism in their young children will head to a federal court to determine whether they are eligible to collect damages from the government. [a] Parents claiming that childhood vaccines cause autism should not be rewarded by the courts when the scientific community has already rejected any link, government lawyers argued Monday on the first day of a hearing in federal court. [w] The attorneys for the two boys said that a study in monkeys showed that mercury could ignite "neuroinflammation" in the brain, and such inflammation is the hallmark of somebody with autism. They also noted that previous studies of thimerosal were focused on autism, rather than on a more rare, specific form of the disorder that they described as regressive autism. [w]

Two families are serving as test cases in this second of a three-phase review of evidence being examined by a special federal court intended to compensate victims of injuries caused by vaccines. Nearly 5,000 other autism claims are pending in the court. [c] Under the vaccine compensation program, officials titled special masters serve as the trial judges. The hearing that began Monday involved three special masters who will hear the evidence and determine whether thimerosal belongs on the list of causes for regressive autism. The rulings are appealable to the Court of Federal Claims. [w]

If the families are successful, they could be entitled to damages that cover lost income after one turns 18 and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering. [w] The United States Court of Federal Claims began another hearing on Monday to decide whether a vaccine additive led thousands of children to become autistic.[n] The United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) is a court that hears claims against the United States government. The court is established pursuant to Congress's authority under Article One of the United States Constitution. Unlike judges of courts established under Article Three of the United States Constitution, judges on the Court of Federal Claims do not have lifetime tenure. Instead, the judges serve for a term of fifteen years, and are eligible for reappointment. The judges of the court are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a term of fifteen years.[w1]

For more information and link to the Court site go to [cc]

CHILDHOOD VACCINE+MERCURY=AUTISM The hearing is the second in a series of three in which the court is considering whether the government should pay millions of dollars to the parents of some 4,800 autistic children. In this hearing, parents are claiming that thimerosal, a preservative that contains mercury, damaged their children’s brains. Thimerosal was removed from all routinely administered childhood vaccines by 2001. [n]

The parents are seeking compensation because the vaccines contained thimerosal, a mercury-derived compound they say helped bring on regressive autism, in which normally developing children suddenly exhibit learning disorders and behavioral problems, typically between ages 1 and 2.[c] Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Medical experts don't have a comprehensive understanding of what causes autism, but they do know there is a strong hereditary component. [w] Thimerosal has been removed in recent years from standard childhood vaccines, except flu vaccines that are not packaged in single doses. The CDC says single-dose flu shots currently are available only in limited quantities. [w]

Testimony resumed Monday in a long-running case involving thousands of children with autism that their parents contend was triggered by an early childhood vaccination.[c]

WHY HAVE THE PARENTS INSTINCT PERSISTED Every major study and scientific organization to examine the issue has found no link between vaccination and autism, but the parents and their advocates have persisted.[n] The first witness for the families, Sander Greenland, a professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, said published studies he reviewed failed to separate regressive autism from other types of autism when looking at thimerosal, thus they allow for a substantial association of the vaccines with clearly regressive autism. [w]

DRUG SCARES, CHILDREN AND SPECIAL COURTS TO PROTECT THE DRUG INDUSTRY The claims are being heard in a special court set up by Congress 20 years ago when a series of scares nearly crippled the vaccine industry. The hearing is expected to last two to three weeks, and a decision is not expected until next year.[n]

A CRACK IN THE DAMN PROTECTING THE REGULATED Almost absent from this hearing and the others in the series is any discussion of the case of Hannah Poling, an autistic 9-year-old from Athens, Ga., who the government conceded last year might have been injured by vaccines. Vaccine critics say the concession gives strong evidence that vaccines cause autism, but government officials say the case proves nothing regarding the safety of vaccines.[n]

The theory that vaccines or thimerosal can cause autism is not accepted by many medical experts, including the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Multiple scientific studies also have not proved a link.[c]

WHAT DO KIDS FROM ATHENS AND PORTLAND HAVE IN COMMON, THIMERSOAL The experiences of two 10-year-old boys from Portland, Ore., are at the center of the latest hearing. The boys, William Mead and Jordan King, were developing normally until they were vaccinated, said Thomas Powers, a lawyer representing them.[n] Lawyers for these families maintain that the boys were developing normally until they were exposed to vaccines containing thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury. After receiving these vaccinations, the attorneys say, the boys began to show symptoms of autism — a developmental disability characterized by difficulty in communicating and interacting with others. [a]

But a buildup of mercury in their brains from vaccines containing thimerosal led the boys to regress, Mr. Powers contended.[n] The claims for the two boys are test cases being heard to determine whether parents in thousands of similar cases should receive compensation. Last summer, Mr. Powers presented before the special court the test case of Michelle Cedillo, who Mr. Powers claimed was injured by both vaccines containing thimerosal and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, which did not contain thimerosal. [n]

A ROOM FULL OF LAWYERS WILL MAKE A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS Next summer, the court will hear a test case in which lawyers will argue that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was the sole cause of autism. [n]

LAWYERS SPEAK..... In his opening remarks, family attorney Thomas Powers disputed what he said is the government's focus on defending the nation's vaccination program.[c] "This case is not about the science of vaccines. It is not anti-vaccine," Powers told a panel of three "special masters."[c] "It's on a mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, that today is largely a relic of history," he said. Thimerosal was removed from infant vaccines in 1999.[c] U.S. Justice Department attorney Lynn Ricciardella presented the government's opening remarks.[c] "In the six years since the U.S. Court of Federal Claims created this proceeding, petitioners have not moved beyond their hypothesis," Ricciardella said.[c]

"The debate is over," she concluded, "the credible scientific community has rejected it.[c] Ricciardella argued that a marketing consultant fanned publicity about the supposed link between thimerosal and autism in a journal called Medical Hypothesis. She described the journal as willing to publish radical ideas, so long as they are coherent. She also said the authors pay to have the article published. [w] But Powers said those questioning conventional wisdom in the case cannot be easily dismissed. [w] "These are doctors who are willing to challenge the establishment on behalf of their patients," Powers said. [w]

But Powers, speaking with reporters during a midday break, said the government's defense rests largely on research done no later than 2004. "There are at least 35 studies, peer-reviewed and published," that the families hope to showcase through expert testimony, he said.[c]

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED Plaintiffs and their lawyers have sought for years to delay hearings on their vaccine claims, hoping new research or government data would bolster their arguments. But with each passing year, the claim that thimerosal had an important effect on children has become harder to sustain. Its removal has appeared to have no effect on autism rates.[n] This phase of the litigation is scheduled to run three weeks. Each phase involves a look at representative cases of children with autism and their medical history to help the special masters determine whether there is a link between their disabilities and thimerosal-containing vaccines that would warrant compensation.[c]

The court Web site says more than 12,500 claims have been filed since creation of the program in 1987, including more than 5,300 autism cases, and more than $1.7 billion has been paid in claims. It says there is now more than $2.7 billion in a trust fund supported by an excise tax on each dose of vaccine covered by the program.[w]

Posted here by Terry Bankert ... 5/13/08
Family Mediation and Divorce Practice. http://attorneybankert.com/

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— where did this stuff come from---
[a] ABC NEWS http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Autism/story?id=4836331&page=1
[w] The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/12/AR2008051200174.html
[n] The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/health/13vaccine.html?ref=worldbusiness [trb] Comments of Terry Bankert to include unattributed CAP headlines http://attorneybankert.com/
[c] CNN http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/05/12/autism.vaccine.case/
[w1] Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Court_of_Federal_Claims
[cc] Federal Court of Claims http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/ background on Autism at http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/4428


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