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A special court ruled Thursday that parents of autistic children are not entitled to compensation in their contention that certain vaccines caused autism in their children.
"I must decide this case not on sentiment, but by analyzing the evidence," one of the "special masters" hearing the case said in denying the families' claims, ruling that the families had not presented sufficient evidence to prove their allegations.
The evidence “is weak, contradictory and unpersuasive,” concluded Special Master Denise Vowell. “Sadly, the petitioners in this litigation have been the victims of bad science conducted to support litigation rather than to advance medical and scientific understanding” of autism.
This program provides compensation to children who have serious adverse effects from any childhood vaccine. The compensation covers medical and related expenses, lost future income, and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering. The funding for paying successful claims regarding vaccines administered before 1988 came from the U.S. Treasury. For claims regarding later vaccinations, funding comes from a patient fee of 75 cents per vaccination. The VICP trust fund currently contains more than $2 billion. About 7000 claims have been filed for adverse effects other than autism, and so far about 2000 have resulted in compensation, in amounts averaging about $850,000. Approximately 700 claims remain unresolved, since the VICP frequently takes more than 2 years to process a petition.
To win a VICP award, the claimant does not need to prove everything that is required to hold a vaccine maker liable in a product liability lawsuit. But a causal connection must be shown. If medical records show that a child had one of several listed adverse effects within a short period after vaccination, the VICP presumes that it was caused by the vaccine (although the government can seek to prove otherwise). An advisory committee helps to amend the list of adverse effects as the consensus view changes with the availability of new studies. If families claim that a vaccine caused an adverse effect that is not on the list, the burden of proof rests with them. Autism is not on the list for any vaccine, and the VICP has rejected about 300 such claims outright.
But thousands of autism claims are pending. In 2002, to resolve such claims more expeditiously, the VICP announced that some test cases would examine the general causation question, putting aside the question of harm to any particular child. Although this process was supposed to take only 2 years, the first of nine test cases was heard just this past summer, with many witnesses testifying for each side. A special section of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims administers the VICP, and judges running this so-called Vaccine Court are not expected to begin to decide these cases until 2008. Department of Justice lawyers appear in opposition to the claimants.
Originally posted by awake_awoke
I remember when they "kind of" make the connection in a court ruling back in March '08:
Vaccine case draw new attention to autism debate
The parents of a 9-year-old girl with autism said Thursday that their assertion that her illness was caused by childhood vaccines has been vindicated by the federal government's decision to compensate them.
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