Brazenness, Torts, and Lyme

Monday, June 01, 2015

A news story, explaining "Why Your Dog Can Get Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease and You Can't", correctly attributes the cause to "societal and cultural reasons, not scientific reasons":

Introduced in 1998, the vaccine sold well at first. But then opponents spoke out: self-described "vaccine victims" -- perhaps similar to people today who claim the MMR vaccine causes autism. Back then, they said that the Lyme vaccine gave them arthritis.

"And this sort of got into popular lore," [Vaccinologist Gregory] Poland recalls. "It got on the Internet. There were a number of East Coast lawyers who started putting together class-action lawsuits. There were anti-vaccine advocacy groups that were formed."

And there were threats against the scientists who had worked to help protect people against the disease. Poland had to hide where he lived. [Physician Allen] Steere got a security detail.

The clinical data did not back up any of this. The trials had not shown such side effects. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control looked into the claims, and then continued to recommended that people exposed to tick-infested areas get the vaccine.

But it was too late. Sales had plummeted. Four years after offering people immunity against Lyme, SmithKline Beecham stopped making the vaccine. The second vaccine-maker, Pasteur Mérieux Connaught, saw what had happened and never put out its own product. [bold added, other format edits]
In a fully free society, an individual who wanted to avail himself of a vaccine against a disease known to cause pain, memory impairment, and other neurological problems, could do so, based on his own judgement and at his own risk.

By contrast, we have a situation where scientists and drug producers live under direct and indirect threats to life, limb, and property. The obvious need for tort reform and the curtailment of both governmental abuse and dereliction stem from a regressive culture. This culture is contemptuous of evidence and unashamed of the initiation of force against others, be it motivated by parasitism or fear. That lack of shame comes in part from better men saying nothing.

The belief that government can protect us from reality (such as by holding manufacturers liable beyond reasonable limits) or ourselves (such as by pretending to relieve us of all risk) is unleashing the worst among us, and is, among other things, subjecting us to plagues like Lyme disease.

-- CAV

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