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Protection for vaccine makers

Product liability concerns continue to hinder vaccine development

Lynne Lederman(LynneLederman@yahoo.com)

Lawsuits are continuing to have a chilling effect on vaccine producers, both reducing the number of companies willing to get into the vaccine business and raising the costs of development, according to legal and industry representatives at the Vaccines meeting held October 22–24 in Arlington, Va. (cosponsored by The Scientist). On the gathering's first day, legislation to limit class-action lawsuits and large damage awards against corporations failed by a single vote in Congress, killing the bill (S 274) for this year and leaving meeting attendees predicting a negative effect on the vaccine industry.

“We don't believe lawyers should exist. They have ruined the vaccine industry and made it impossible to get insurance,” said one angry attendee, Stan Yakatan, an industry consultant with Katan Associates in Hermosa Beach, Calif., and a former venture capitalist.

“Class actions are profitable primarily to lawyers,” said Neal Halsey, director of the Institute of Vaccine...

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