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While You Were Sleeping: Legal Shield for Vaccine Makers, Part 2

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Dear All:

The provision in the defense bill inserted by Sen. Bill Frist last week is troublesome in that the provision exempts from all liability (not just punitive damages) manufacturers of not only vaccines, but all drugs used to treat a pandemic, epidemic, or biological attack. The bill provides that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (FDA's "boss") is
the sole person who can decide whether a drug is used to treat a pandemic,
epidemic, or biological attack. It would be easy for the secretary to decide
that something like depression is an epidemic in this country. In fact, when
you do a google search using "depression epidemic," you get 1,760,000 hits!
So, if the Secretary of HHS decides that depression is an epidemic, then he
could shield all antidepressant-makers from liability for drug-induced

One article explains: "The provision would provide immunity from lawsuits
to any company that made 'countermeasures' -- broadly defined as drugs,
vaccines or medical devices -- to protect Americans against pandemics,
epidemics or biological attacks. It would give the secretary of health and
human services authority to determine what constituted a pandemic or an
epidemic. ... [T]hat authority, broadly construed, could apply to heart
drugs or diabetes, for example, should the secretary declare heart disease
or diabetes an epidemic." See


According to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.: "This liability shield can be
granted to any product used to prevent or treat an epidemic or a pandemic,
and the secretary gets to decide what that means. No court can review that

This is not the first time Frist has tried to use a military bill as a
"cover" to give special protections to the drug industry. In 2002, he
authored protections for Eli Lilly's vaccine additive Thimerisol that were
inserted into the Homeland Security bill. It was only after a public
backlash that Congress and Frist repealed the measure.

The below website provides a fast and easy way to participate in some
"public backlash" by telling your representatives your concerns about this
back-door attempt to protect Big Pharma:

. . . we have the email links to write to the Senators on the Senate
Committee on Armed Forces, pasted below.

Also, if you have no time to write something, here's a short form

I am deeply concerned about the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriation's bill, which contains a provision that would immunize drug companies from liability for the harm their drugs may cause. The proposal does not, in any way, limit its application only to new drugs or vaccines used in a pandemic context. The scope of the proposal is so broad that it could include antidepressants such as Paxil and Effexor or pain medications such as Vioxx and Bextra. I urge you to oppose this back-door attempt to shield the pharmaceutical industry, even when it is "negligent or reckless."

SenatorWeb Form or Email Address
1John Mc Cain, Az http://mccain.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=contact.home
2James Inhofe, Ok http://inhofe.senate.gov/contactus.htm
3Pat Roberts, KS http://roberts.senate.gov/e-mail_pat.html
4Jeff Sessions, Al http://sessions.senate.gov/email/contact.cfm
5Susan Collins, Me http://collins.senate.gov/low/contactemail.htm
6John Ensign, NV http://ensign.senate.gov/forms/email_form.cfm
7James Talent, Mo http://talent.senate.gov/contact/default.cfm?pagemode=1
8Saxby Chambliss,
Ga http://chambliss.senate.gov/contact/default.cfm?pagemode=1
9Lindsey Graham, SC http://lgraham.senate.gov/index.cfm?mode=contact
10Elizabeth Dole,
NC http://dole.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=contactinformation.contactform
11John Cornyn, TX http://cornyn.senate.gov/contact/index.html
12John Thune, SD http://thune.senate.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=contact.home
13Carl Levin, Mi http://levin.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
14Ted Kennedy,Ma http://kennedy.senate.gov/contact.html
15Robert Byrd,WV http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_email.html
16Joe Lieberman,
Conn http://lieberman.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm?regarding=issue
17Jack Reed, Ri http://reed.senate.gov/contact/thoughts.cfm
18Dan Akaka, Hi(Email) senator@akaka.senate.gov
19Bill Nelson, Fl http://billnelson.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm#email
20E. Benjamin Nelson,NE http://bennelson.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm
21Mark Dayton, Mn http://dayton.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm
22Evan Bayh,In http://bayh.senate.gov/webmail1.htm
23Hillary Clinton, NY http://clinton.senate.gov/contact

Karen Barth Menzies, Esq.
Baum Hedlund, A Professional Corporation
Tel: 310-207-3233
Fax: 310-820-7444
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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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