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Pandemic Proofing
BY JAMES L. GARDNER
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Dr. Paul Offit
Dr. Paul Offit

Not surprisingly, the questions of liability and litigation arouse the most heated debates between the lawyers and doctors. One of the harshest critics of the legal profession’s impact on vaccine development is Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and Professor of Pediatrics at Penn.

Offit would like to take all vaccine-related injury claims out of the hands of juries, who generally lack medical expertise and scientific understanding, and allow a panel of scientists, epidemiologists, virologists, microbiolgists, clinicians, and statisticians to decide the cases. Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, plaintiffs can receive compensation for expenses and damages.

Nonetheless, as Offit writes, plaintiffs can still take cases to court — and therein lies the rub for him.

 
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