• Final Nail In the Vaccine/Autism Coffin?
  • May 28, 2010 | Author: Joseph M. Schreiber
  • Law Firm: Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP - Houston Office
  • The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently drove what we hope is the last nail in the coffin of the vaccine/autism litigation. Rarely has a toxic tort had the potential to cause so much harm based on such shoddy science. The history of this tort and its shortcomings have been reported in great detail.

    In short, the scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism came from a discredited article by Andrew J. Wakefield and two follow-up articles. Dr. Wakefield’s article created a public health crisis with parents, including celebrity parents Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carey, urging parents not to get their children vaccinated. As a result, formerly endemic childhood diseases which had become effectively eradicated in the developed world began to make a reemergence. Wakefield’s article was finally withdrawn from the Lancet earlier this year after 10 of the 12 co-authors disavowed it. Wakefield, himself, refuses to withdraw the article even though it was found that he committed scientific misconduct and lied in the article. The UK’s General Medical counsel’s Fitness to Practice Panel issued a judgment against him for his vaccine/autism paper. Wakefield continues to testify. Others testify based on his work.

    Thankfully, the vaccine litigation was consolidated in the federal Vaccine Court pursuant to The Vaccine Act (passed in response to the health scare where the DTP vaccine was accused of causing neurological damage and in response to lawsuits, stopped being manufactured). Plaintiffs in three bellwether cases all failed on causation. The Special Masters wrote massive opinions eviscerating Wakefield and the causation theories of Plaintiffs.

    Hopefully parents can now rest assured that vaccines are not a risk for autism. And, they can recognize the far greater risks to their children and society from not vaccinating.