An important case is being heard before the Supreme Court that could determine big pharmaceutical companies' liability for unintended effects of their vaccines, and perhaps even drive them from the market.
The suit was brought by parents of an 18-year-old Pittsburgh girl who they claim suffered seizures from a vaccine produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, which she received as a child, according to The Associated Press.
However, the plaintiffs' case is opposed by many public health organizations — which fear it may stem medical research — as well as the Obama administration. They argue that by establishing the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, also known as vaccine court, in 1986, Congress has effectively protected pharmaceutical companies from similar lawsuits.
A lower court in Philadelphia already ruled in favor of Wyeth, but many of the Supreme Court justices are said to be sympathetic to the parents' claims. The final appeal takes place amid allegations — which have not yet been scientifically proven — that some vaccines may cause autism in susceptible children.