Drugs firms face lawsuits

A NEW book linking autism and infant vaccines could cost the pharmaceutical industry billions of dollars. In Evidence of Harm, US author David Kirby tells the story of parents who claim mercury in vaccines contributed to an "autism epidemic" in America.

Already, analysts are predicting the book could trigger a number of lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that made the vaccines.

As many as 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of autism and a conservative estimate puts the cost of lifetime treatment, education and care at $2 million per person.

In the UK, campaigners blamed the vaccine MMR for causing autism after the incidence of the condition increased tenfold among children between 1984 and 1994.

Writing in The Scotsman today, Margaret Cook - a retired consultant haematologist - said the furore over MMR would be "swamped into insignificance" by new fears about mercury in the DTP triple vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis).

She said: "If the link between mercury and autism is proved beyond doubt ... the capacity for litigation, certainly in the US, would possibly be sufficiently seismic to destroy the pharmaceutical industry as we know it."

Mercury has now been removed from DTP, but Ms Cook said there were still toxic metals in the new pentavalent vaccine.

"I would be very careful vaccinating because even these new vaccines include aluminium, which is not a heavy metal but is toxic."

Ms Cook also said people are aware of misinformation in the past as drug companies prolong the use of vaccines.

Bill Welsh, chairman of Action Against Autism, called for an independent investigation into the use of vaccines to prevent children being possibly damaged by toxins.

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