Respectful Insolence

Kent Heckenlively shows us why AoA is “not anti-vaccine”:

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth has the potential to move all that in a new direction. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act simply states, “No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable . . . if the injury or death resulted from side-effect that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.”

What does that mean in plain English? The example I’ve always heard used in reference to such a standard is dynamite. Now we all know what dynamite does. It blows up. So, if you light a stick of dynamite, wait over it, and it blows up, you’re out of luck. By its very nature dynamite is an inherently unsafe product.

But if you have a six-foot fuse, light it, and as you try to run away the fuse burns so quickly that you can’t escape, well, you’re entitled to recovery. Or, if they use substandard chemicals and the dynamite simply blows up while sitting in a box, then you’re entitled to recovery.

You can still sell dynamite. As the manufacturer you just need to sell the safest dynamite you can produce.

To Kent Heckenlively, vaccines are like dynamite; their purpose is to explode and thereby destroy. I find it quite telling that Heckenlively couldn’t think of another example to illustrate his point. I’m surprised he restrained himself not to use another similar example, such as firearms. In any case, note how he chose the example of a product designed to destroy in the context of crowing over a Supreme Court case that, in the unlikely event the plaintiffs prevail, could severely limit the power and scope of the Vaccine Court.

Comments

  1. #1 Adam_Y
    March 17, 2010

    By its very nature dynamite is an inherently unsafe product.

    Wait wasn’t dynamite invented because of the inherently unsafe nature of nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin would explode if you dropped it the wrong way let alone light it with a fuse.

  2. #2 Lulu
    March 17, 2010

    Can Kent read? The manufacturer is not liable if the injury/death was unavoidable even though the product was properly prepared. That means that they are not liable if something happens despite the fact that it is the safest possible product.

  3. #3 Nescio
    March 17, 2010

    To be fair, vaccines are inherently dangerous. From the perspective of the infectious-disease-promotion-movement ( http://contusio-cordis.blogspot.com/2009/11/vaccines-are-evil-gambit.html which is in the pocket of Big Infliction, i.e. hepatitis, tetanus, mumbs, et cetera) they inflict serious damage to their lobbying capability in favour of spreading infectious diseases, and thereby killing a multitude of humans.

    Luckily there are safer methods to prevent disease. ( http://contusio-cordis.blogspot.com/2010/03/homeopathy-placebo.html )

  4. #4 MikeMa
    March 17, 2010

    I try to imagine a world where the anti-vax crowd can live in complete blissful isolation far enough from the sane parts of the world to enjoy all that polio and measles they are so in favor of.

    It is a nice dream.

  5. #5 Prometheus
    March 17, 2010

    OK, this is below stupid.

    True, the legal principle Mr. Heckenlively cites can be applied to dynamite – a product that is inherently dangerous. It can also apply to a product that, as a result of a reckless and relentless campaign of misinformation and disinformation, is perceived to be inherently dangerous.

    For the six millionth time, there is precious little profit in making routine vaccines. Most of the production is sold to government public health agencies at prices set very low. In many states, pediatricians can buy their vaccines from the state, at the same price the state pays.

    In short, vaccine manufacturers don’t make a lot of money on routine childhood vaccines (or influenza vaccines). In 1988, faced with the prospect of all manufacturers dropping production of routine vaccines due to liability cost, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created as directed by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660).

    The language of that act includes the part cited by Mr. Heckenlively.

    Like dynamite, vaccines have had a major positive impact on modern civilisation. Like dynamite, vaccines are safe when used properly. Like dynamite, vaccines – on rare occasions – kill and injure people even when they are used properly.

    One of the major differences between dynamite and vaccines (as Mr. Heckenlively should know) is that dynamite can explode. It is, in fact, supposed to explode. If it doesn’t explode, dynamite would be properly considered to be defective. A dynamite explosion is not a sign of a defective product unless it goes off spontaneously.

    Vaccines, by contrast, do not explode. They do, regrettably, kill and injure people on rare occasions. Because of the nature of vaccines and human beings, this is an unavoidable fact of life. It is not evidence of an inherent flaw.

    The VICP exists to compensate the small number of people who are injured by vaccines without driving vaccine manufacturers out of the childhood vaccine business through liability lawsuits.

    Another point that Mr. Heckenlively glosses over is that vaccines have not been shown to cause autism. In fact, the best (and most abundant) data suggest that they do not. Absent that, the risks of vaccination are still less than the risk of the disease. If you doubt that, run the numbers.

    Prometheus

  6. #6 Scott
    March 17, 2010

    I can’t help but think you’re reading too much into his choice of example.

  7. #7 MosesZD
    March 17, 2010

    …and the Special Masters are paid by the same government which is promoting the vaccines.

    They’ve been nipping a bit hard at the conspiracy juice… All Federal Judges are paid by the same government that promotes vaccines…

    As for dynamite. That’s just too funny. My grandfather owned and operated multiple mines and quarries in his business career. And his brother owned and operated two traditional shaft-style hard-coal mines in Kentucky. Not a single dynamite accident in all those mines over all those years.

    And that’s simply because dynamite is an inherently safe product as long as it is properly stored and cared for… The only time dynamite, without human stupidity making it dangerous, is when it gets really old and starts to “sweat” nitroglycerin. Then, in rare instances, it can blow from a good shock.

    Anyway, I’m sure this guys idea of dynamite comes from a Roadrunner cartoon. And it may be an “effective” example for the ignorant. But I find it funny.

  8. #8 superdave
    March 17, 2010

    Seatbelts. Kent, next time think of seatbelts.
    On mythbusters, they once tested the claim that steel toed boots are not safe because something heavy landing on your bfoot could cause the metal to bend and chop off your toes.
    Mythbusters concluded that the force needed to bend the metal would probably pulverize your entire foot if you were not wearing the boots.

    If people can convince themselves that they are better off without steel toed boots, vaccines are easy.

  9. #9 Terrie
    March 17, 2010

    I’ve always thought bicycles are a better analogy. There is a risk in learning to ride a bike. Most kids will get bumps, bruises and scrapes in the process. These are comparable to the mild fevers and soreness that many people experience in response to a vaccine. A small number of kids will break their bones as they fall, and a rare few may even experience permenant effects. But no one wants to sue the bike companies, or claims that there’s a Big Bike Conspiracy.

  10. #10 Rogue Medic
    March 17, 2010

    By its very nature dynamite is an inherently unsafe product.

    As Adam_Y pointed out, dynamite is not an inherently unsafe product.

    What AoA produce is an inherently unsafe product. They produce misinformation that endangers children.

    Maybe AoA will qualify for a form of Darwin Award for those who have children (normally a disqualification for Darwin Awards), yet end up retroactively deleting their children from the gene pool by not vaccinating their children.

  11. #11 Jeff Read
    March 17, 2010

    In short, vaccine manufacturers don’t make a lot of money on routine childhood vaccines (or influenza vaccines).

    B-b-b-but.. don’t you see? That’s why Big Pharma lobbies governments to push through these insanely aggressive vaccine schedules — so they can make it up in volume!

    TOO MANY TOO SOON

  12. #12 Sir Eccles
    March 17, 2010

    Would this be a better example?

    There is a famine. If you don’t have food to eat there is a high risk of you dying of starvation. Food aid has arrived in the form of some bread, you eat it because this reduces the risk that you die of starvation.

    Your friend is also starving so he eats some bread, but oh no he has a gluten allergy. He isn’t starving anymore but he does have an upset stomach.

    The silly people next door consulted their witchdoctor first who says gluten allergies are terrible things and you must avoid this food aid. A week later their bloated and rotting corpses are attracting rats, insects and other pests…

    You make a mental note to remember next time there is a famine to ask the aid people for gluten free bread for your friend. Your neighbors are now permanently “cured” of their gluten allergies.

  13. #13 Enkidu
    March 17, 2010

    Prometheus: “For the six millionth time, there is precious little profit in making routine vaccines. Most of the production is sold to government public health agencies at prices set very low. In many states, pediatricians can buy their vaccines from the state, at the same price the state pays.”

    I had an anti-vax acquaintance recently go off about how swine flu was a hoax and a conspiracy for Big Pharma to make money. I pointed out that everyone at my workplace received the vaccine for free. I took my daughter to the local health clinic, where she also received a free vaccine. My aunt is a school principal, and they held a free clinic for every child. All she did was laugh and still insist that it wasn’t for free.

  14. #14 Andreas Johansson
    March 17, 2010

    If people can convince themselves that they are better off without steel toed boots, vaccines are easy.

    I’m exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases rather more often than I have stuff heavy enough to cause serious injury drop on my feet.

  15. #15 superdave
    March 17, 2010

    @ andreas, fair enough but I meant to specify that it’s construction workers who are making this claim.

  16. #16 Prometheus
    March 17, 2010

    Enkidu says:

    “All she did was laugh and still insist that it wasn’t for free.”

    It wasn’t free – somebody paid for it. However, you can be sure that the vaccine manufacturer isn’t making a bundle on influenza vaccine.

    Frankly, if I were in charge of directing a pharmaceutical companies long-range research planning, I’d tell them to concentrate on treatments for erectile dysfunction, baldness and wrinkles. You can charge amazing amounts of money for them and nobody seems to care if there are any side effects as long as they work.

    From what we’ve seen, researching vaccines is a financial dead end.

    Prometheus

  17. #17 Enkidu
    March 17, 2010

    @16: Yeah, I’m sure it was our tax dollars at work, but I’m sure there were limits on what the manufacturer could charge the government in this case, when they were supplying so many free doses to the public.

    I would be more inclined to believe that H1N1 was a hoax created by the company that makes Purel… that stuff was flying off shelves! Our building got a dispensor installed next to every bathroom and elevator.

    Of course it doesn’t beat your erectile dysfunction, baldness and wrinkle theory. Boo getting old. :o)

  18. #18 AussieMarcus
    March 18, 2010

    Remind me, was Kent Heckenlively the guy who took his autistic daughter to Costa Rica to inject “stem cells” into her spinal fluid?

  19. #19 Lawrence
    March 18, 2010

    So, the gist of the case in front of the Supreme Court is that parents want to be able to ignore the rulings of the Vaccine Court & got to Civil Court to pursue their cases right?

    The whole reason Congress created the Vaccine Court in the first place was to prevent pharma companies from abandoning vaccine research and production entirely, because of all of the lawsuits (and this was back in the 80’s, imagine what it would be like today!).

    So, it seems like this is just another tactic to eliminate vaccine production all-together, since corporations are so lawsuit-adverse today (and I’ve seen the average cost of litigation go up 500% in the last few years) – that it would be even more reason to get out of the market.

    Perhaps the manufacturers should license their vaccines back to NIH & let the CDC build their own manufacturing facilities and run the vaccine program on their own? It is nigh-impossible to sue the government in certain cases (and Congress could certainly toughen up the laws anyway – if the Vaccine Court falls apart).

    Wouldn’t that back the anti-vaxxers into a corner? Boy, these people really piss me off.

  20. #20 Sid Offit
    March 18, 2010

    There ain’t no money in dem vaccines:

    DOW JONES NEWSWIRES / By Mimosa Spencer
    PARIS (Dow Jones)–French drugs company Sanofi-Aventis SA Friday … raised full-year guidance, citing an expected $500 million boost to fourth-quarter sales from the swine flu vaccine.

    http://www.prlog.org/10232681-the-worldwide-market-for-vaccines-to-reach-us507-billion-in-2013-forecasts-new-report.html
    The Worldwide Market for Vaccines to reach US$50.7 billion in 2013, forecasts New Report
    Prevnar (Wyeth): 2008 sales of US$2.7 billion (€1.9 billion);
    Gardasil (Merck): 2008 sales of US$1.4 billion (€959 million), sales estimated at US$2.3 billion (€1.6 billion) when counting Gardasil sales by Merck, Sanofi Pasteur MSD, and CSL;
    ProQuad/M-M-R II/Varivax (Merck): 2008 sales of US$1.3 billion (€867 million);
    Infanrix/Pediarix (GlaxoSmithKline): 2008 sales of US$1.3 billion (€859 million);

  21. #21 MikeMa
    March 18, 2010

    Sid,
    Sales and profit are different you know.

  22. #22 Sid Offit
    March 18, 2010

    Ain’t no profits in dem vaccines:

    By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

    Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline was accused of cashing in on swine flu after it revealed its profits have risen 10 per cent since the virus was identified.
    It announced profits yesterday of £2.1billion in the past three months. Sales of vaccines and antiviral drugs could push the figure up even higher.
    GSK chief executive Andrew Witty admitted the swine flu crisis would be a ‘significant financial event for the company’.

    Vaccine Industry Growing Amid Increased Funding, Higher Profits
    The Los Angeles Times on Sunday examined “a boom in vaccine discovery and development” prompted by advances in technology, “increased funding and higher profits.”

  23. #23 Scott
    March 18, 2010

    That’s why Big Pharma lobbies governments to push through these insanely aggressive vaccine schedules — so they can make it up in volume!

    Regarding “making it up in volume”:

    http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0135.html

  24. #24 Scott
    March 18, 2010

    @22:

    Now find an actual breakdown between vaccine profits and antiviral profits, and you might actually have something that reasonably resembles evidence.

  25. #25 MikeMa
    March 18, 2010

    Sid,
    I can accept that the H1N1 situation may have boosted sales and profits for those companies able to ramp up production to supply the worldwide demand for the vaccine expected to cause such devastation. I am glad they were able to do so. It is not yet clear whether the H1N1 strain was less potent or our response was rapid enough to lessen the toll but I’m glad we can respond so effectively.

    This does nothing to highlight the thin margins regular childhood vaccines represent. I know you do all your work for free but most people and companies are working to make a profit. You are arguing that the profit motive for childhood vaccines is enough to create huge conspiracies and cover-ups. Without evidence of these dastardly shenanigans, you’ve got no traction.

    All vaccines and all medicines, natural and man-made carry risks. An intelligent person weighs the risks & benefits and acts accordingly. You seem to feel that the extensive well documented benefit of vaccines is outweighed by the tenuous, unproven connection to autism. Sadly you and others like you risk even more as you reduce herd immunity and put many more children at risk. Not very bright.

  26. #26 Sir Eccles
    March 18, 2010

    I will admit that this is somewhat specious but…

    Worldwide Market for Vaccines to reach US$50.7 billion
    Worldwide population ~6.5 billion
    Cost per person <$10

    I’d call that a bargain!

  27. #27 Sir Eccles
    March 18, 2010

    Hmm, the less than $10 bit disappeared.

  28. #28 MikeMa
    March 19, 2010

    Sir Eccles
    Your less than sign was lost after ‘Cost per person’ :)

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