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Bird Flu Bill Slammed as Loophole for Drugmakers

December 20, 2005
by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Los Angeles Times

Bird flu preparedness legislation headed for a final vote in the Senate this week would create loopholes allowing vaccine makers to avoid legal liability even if a patient is harmed by negligence, critics said today. Democrats and the Assn. of Trial Lawyers of America derided the legislation as a gift to the drug industry, but its supporters said the lawyers were acting in their own self-interest. Nonetheless, a leading public health group also criticized the liability language. "We recognize the need for liability protections to get the industry into the game, but we're uncomfortable with the breadth of the liability protections and the fact that they are not balanced by an appropriately strong compensation program," said Jeffrey Levi, a policy advisor with the Trust for America's Health, which advocates stronger government action to deal with the threat of a flu pandemic.

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