Court Revises Stance on Vaccine's Autism 'Link'
(CN) - A Georgia family cannot pursue claims that a vaccine made their son autistic, the state Supreme Court ruled after the federal justices vacated its opinion earlier this year.
Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari had sued American Home Products over a booster shot containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. They claimed the medication had caused their son, Stefano, to develop autism.
The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the drugmaker, which does business as Wyeth, SmithKline Beecham, GlaxoSmithKline and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, but the state appeals division reversed.
At the Georgia Supreme Court, the justices affirmed, holding that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act of 1986 did not pre-empt design-defect claims.
But that decision unraveled when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bruesewitz v. Wyeth in February.
In that case, the justices threw out a lawsuit of a Pittsburgh couple whose 6-month-old daughter developed a seizure disorder after being vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Baby Hannah began to experience seizures within 24 hours of the vaccination and had over 100 episodes during the next month.
Later that month, the justices vacated the Ferraris' case in light of Bruesewitz. Wyeth had claimed that drugmakers are immune from claims over childhood vaccines since the need to stamp out disease is great. The company also firmly disputed the speculation that vaccines cause autism.
"While allegations of this sort have swept through the media and the internet, every reputable scientific body and governmental agency that has studied the question - including the FDA and CDC - has rejected any linkage between vaccines and autism," according to Wyeth's petition to the high court.
Justice George Carley of the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the Ferrari case and sent it back to the appeals court for further proceedings.