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TribBlog: Court Says Vaccine Preservative and Autism Not Linked

The new rulings could result in a decrease in the number of lawsuits surrounding vaccines.

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Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative frequently found in vaccines, does not cause autism, according to three rulings today by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The preservative has long been perceived as dangerous by "vaccine choice" parents, many of whom believe that vaccines cause autism and other chronic diseases. 

Today's rulings come on three "test cases," part of what is called the Omnibus Autism Proceeding or OAP. In all three cases, parents alleged that thimerosal was responsible at some level for their child's autism. In all three cases, the "special masters" presidings, effectively as judges, found that the parents failed to establish a sound, scientific connection. The court has compiled a list of its decisions on autism cases.

According to today's written decisions, the court already heard a set of three "test cases" in 2009 that alleged "Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and the MMR Vaccine, in Combination, Can Cause Autism." Today's documents say that in those three cases, "petitioners had failed to establish both general and specific causation."

When parents worry their child has been negatively affected by a vaccine, they may send a complaint to the National Vaccine Information Center, where cases are investigated. Those deemed to have cases with merit can seek payment. The money for such payouts comes from a 75-cent tax on every vaccine, meant to protect vaccine producers from litigation and encourage them to continue production.

The new rulings could result in a decrease in the number of lawsuits surrounding vaccines.

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