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Judge in Gardasil lawsuit throws out most claims

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a law professor and vaccination policy expert, discusses a federal judge’s recent decision in the Gardasil lawsuit, which barred several claims against Merck as preempted by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act but permitted discovery to proceed on claims involving failure to warn the plaintiffs’ doctors and fraudulent concealment. This pivotal ruling reduced the scope of the plaintiffs’ cases, originally marked by broad allegations, to more specific claims of deficient warnings to healthcare providers and concealed risks, despite substantial evidence against the alleged harms of the HPV vaccine.

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Mumps vaccine effectiveness — the facts

Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss discussed a whistleblower lawsuit against Merck regarding its mumps vaccine. Though the case was dismissed, concerns remain about the vaccine’s effectiveness. Regardless, scientific evidence supports the MMR vaccine’s safety and effectiveness against mumps, a disease that can have serious complications. Waning immunity and incomplete vaccination may be contributing to recent mumps outbreaks.

Merck mumps vaccine lawsuit

District Court dismisses 2010 Merck mumps vaccine lawsuit

In July 2023, a False Claims Act lawsuit against Merck, alleging fraud related to the mumps vaccine, was dismissed due to lack of material evidence. The court found that the government’s decision to contract with Merck was based on its own data about effectiveness, rendering any misrepresentations by Merck immaterial. The lawsuit has been appealed to the Third Circuit.

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Court dismisses Gardasil harms claims against Merck

This article about a court dismissing Gardasil harms claims against Merck was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On March 15, 2022, a federal judge in Connecticut dismissed a tort claim brought against Merck by a young woman, Korrine Herlth, who alleged that the Gardasil vaccine caused her harm, including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (“POTS”) and chronic fatigue syndrome (“CFS”).

The claim was dismissed on the grounds that federal law preempted most of the torts claims – they could not be brought because the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act said that federal law ruled these issues, not state torts law – and the others were dismissed because the plaintiffs’ claims were too general and did not provide sufficient grounds. The claims were dismissed without prejudice, so if the plaintiff – through her lawyers – can correct the problems the court identified, she can refile some of them. 

The case never reached the causation problems in the claim – causation problems that derive from the fact that multiple large studies found no link between HPV vaccines and the alleged harms. Nor did it actually get to examine the validity of the specific claims, but many of them draw directly from anti-vaccines claims that are highly problematic.

It is likely fair to say that in this case – and the other similar claims the law firm bringing the case, Baum, Hedlund, Aristel & Goldman is bringing alleging harms from Gardasil – the law firm is serving the anti-vaccine movement more than the individual plaintiffs, even if the law firm itself is not, as a whole, anti-vaccine. 

Read More »Court dismisses Gardasil harms claims against Merck
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Omicron variant of COVID — some initial facts about vaccines

Just when we thought we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Omicron variant was discovered in Africa. Although many countries shut down travel from Africa, it’s probably too late — it probably was being spread before the Omicron variant was found.

Like when the Delta variant was first observed, there was a lot of confusion about how serious it was going to be and whether vaccines would be effective. It caused a surge in cases and deaths worldwide over the summer.

Although it’s very early, I think there is enough information to, at a minimum, understand what may be upcoming. Of course, as with everything about this pandemic, stay tuned because what we know today may be superseded by what we discover tomorrow.

Read More »Omicron variant of COVID — some initial facts about vaccines