Sneak Attack In Congress
Give Protection To Big Pharma
Well, the Defense Appropriations Bill for 2006 has now been passed by both houses of Congress. Bill Frist, at the last minute, inserted language that gives vast protections to drug companies and the US government itself.
Piecing various reports together (the major media have been almost completely silent), here is the situation.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services—a cabinet post under the president—can declare a medical emergency on any pretext, for any reason. This declaration would be an alert. There is a serious disease outbreak that threatens the US. Or—such an outbreak may be coming soon. The outbreak could be labeled epidemic or pandemic or just outbreak. Or actual or impending or potential bio terror attack.
Once the Secretary of HHS makes his declaration, certain rules apply. ANY countermeasure to such a threat (a drug, a vaccine) would be protected from legal liability. In other words, if people are injured by the medications or killed, no one can sue. No one can sue the drug manufacturers or the government.
We’re talking about a shield for old or new drugs or vaccines. Suppose, for example, there are 10 drugs the government decides constitute countermeasures to threat A: aspirin, smallpox vaccine, doxicillin…
All protected. All companies protected.
The only exception: if a drug company is proven to have injured people WITH INTENT. This means assault or murder. Try showing that in a courtroom.
Tomorrow, the Sec. of HHS could say: AVIAN FLU REPRESENTS A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES. THEREFORE, I AM DECLARING A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. THE FOLLOWING DRUGS AND VACCINES (INCLUDING NEW FUTURE DRUGS) ARE OFFICIAL COUNTERMEASURES TO THE IMMINENT OUTBREAK….
No recourse. No review. No appeal. It’s a done deal.
Now, from everything I can see, a “companion” Bill, SB1873, which has passed out of committee on to the floor of the Senate and awaits debate and vote, will establish, among other things, MANDATED DRUGS AND VACCINES (you have to take them) for actual or potential outbreaks, epidemics, pandemics, bio-terror threats.
That would provide the last link in the chain.