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Commentary

Pandemics and Lawsuits
Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Washington Times, 11-7-05

Goldberg defends the Presidentís plan to respond to the threat of avian flu by revitalizing the U.S. vaccine industry and protecting companies from frivolous lawsuits.

We need to rebuild the market for vaccines and anti-flu drugs. Without it, disease surveillance and quarantine efforts will be of limited value. Ö But which lesson will Congress learn? Its current deliberations should create concern. It is considering price controls and rationing of new drugs in Medicare and Medicaid that are so extreme as to make [Britain's missteps on influenza drugs] seem like an act of medicinal generosity. At the same time Congress has protected gunmakers and cheeseburgers from lawsuits, it has refused to extend the same protection to the developers of lifesaving medicines.

Goldberg is right to point out that, without legal reform, any Congressional legislation to ward off an avian flu pandemic would be self-defeating. If companies wonít produce life-saving medicines out of liability fears, the whole project will be derailed before it even starts.



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