Saturday, October 10, 2009

Health Workers Sue to Void FDA Approval of Swine Flu Vaccine

By Cary O’Reilly

Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- A group of New York doctors and health-care workers who are to be among the first inoculated against swine flu asked a federal judge to void U.S. approval of the vaccine until more safety tests are done.

Rima Laibow, a physician, nurse Suzanne Field and four other New York residents filed the suit in federal court in Washington today. They claim a state law requires them to get the vaccine, putting their health at risk from an unproven treatment and their livelihoods at risk if they refuse.

“This is an emergency action in a matter of significant public importance,” Leslie Fourton, an attorney for the health workers, said in the lawsuit. The Food and Drug Administration “has approved or licensed the vaccines without definitive prerequisite safety testing, in clear violation of federal law.”

The workers asked Judge Reggie Walton to issue an immediate order barring approvals of A/H1N1 vaccines until all legally required testing is conducted and an order preventing New York from firing them if they refuse to take it.

Doctors and hospital workers in Marion County, Indiana, and Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee, were among the first to receive AstraZeneca Plc’s nasal spray vaccine this week.

Swine flu, or H1N1, is spreading widely in most U.S. states. The first vaccines will be aimed at health-care workers, children, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions that put them at risk for complications. While the U.S. has ordered doses to cover all Americans, only half of U.S. adults plan to get the vaccine, according to a Harvard University poll.

Swine flu is responsible for more than 600 U.S. deaths since the virus was identified in April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cary O’Reilly in Washington at caryoreilly@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: October 9, 2009 17:05 EDT