Homeland Security Bill
Includes Drug Company Perks
— The recently signed Homeland Security Act (H.R. 5005)
includes last–minute provisions that protect drug
companies but have little relationship to security.
The Act requires those
injured by thimerosal to file claims through the
federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
before they may pursue civil litigation. Thimerosal is a
mercury–containing vaccine preservative manufactured by
Eli Lilly and other drug companies. Various researchers
have linked its use to childhood autism and nerve
The VICP makes no
finding of fault, and caps damages in the case of death.
Thimerosal victims may only sue the drug manufacturer if
they have gone through the entire VICP process and
received no award or rejected the award. Also, H.R. 5005
may wipe out some thimerosal cases that are now pending
in the state courts.
Injuries from Smallpox
Homeland Security Act provision limits the liability of
manufacturers and health care providers for injuries
caused by the smallpox vaccine. At the same time, it
decreases the protections of those injured by any
side–effects of smallpox vaccination. These individuals
will no longer be able to bring lawsuits in state
courts. They must instead proceed against the federal
government, in federal court, through the Federal Tort
Drug Provisions Were
Rep. Henry Waxman
(D–CA) and other Democrats are concerned that
legislators had little chance to debate the drug company
provisions, which were buried within the 475–page
Homeland Security Act. Congress may again address the
issue of drug manufacturer liability in 2003.
For the full text of
the Homeland Security Act, see the
Thomas Legislative web site (click on Bill Number;
type in H.R. 5005; choose the enrolled version passed by
House and Senate). The drug provisions are contained in
Sections 304, 1714—1717.