WASHINGTON — December 20 — Leading consumer and civil justice organizations today condemned a backroom deal added to the Defense Appropriations conference report that would provide sweeping and “never-before-seen” legal immunity to the drug industry, even for many practices that injure or kill consumers or health care workers. By contrast, first responders and others injured by these vaccines or medical devices get little or no protection, even if injured through negligent or reckless conduct.
As the letter describes: “Drug companies will only be held responsible if there is clear and convincing evidence that the company had actual knowledge the product would kill someone. This is a near impossible standard, which would mean that drug companies will not be accountable for reckless or grossly negligent conduct, even in the manufacturing process.”
The conference report will be considered on the Senate floor Wednesday. The 45-page immunity clause was added without any floor debate in either house and according to press reports, without knowledge or a vote of all conferees, and is supposedly intended solely to encourage adequate vaccine manufacture for pandemics.
The letter points out that the immunity from liability is so broad that it “could apply to common drugs like Tylenol and Advil,” if approved for use by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in any health emergency.
The groups urged Senators to vote no on the conference report unless the liability immunity provision is deleted and pointed out that the bill offers no guarantee that victims will be compensated in any way for injury or death: “Individuals who may suffer serious illness or death as a result of taking a vaccine or other countermeasure are given no assurance of compensation.”
The groups signing the letter included the Alliance For Justice, Center For Justice And Democracy, Consumer Federation Of America, Public Citizen, USACTION and U.S. PIRG.
The full letter is available at www.uspirg.org/consumer