Families of Autistic Children Sue Vaccine Manufacturers Over Alleged Mercury Poisoning

Saturday, September 1, 2001

BOSTON (AP) - Two Massachusetts families are suing several vaccine makers,
claiming the companies' use of a preservative caused their children's autism.

In the lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court, the families allege that
the children "were poisoned with toxic mercury" in the preservative

"No one can tell you what caused the autism," said Michael Chmura, whose
4-year-old autistic son is a plaintiff in the case. "But you find out
you're injecting poison into your kid's bloodstream, the same poison they
tell you not to give them via tuna fish."

The Department of Health and Human Services is working with manufacturers
to phase out use of thimerosal. The preservative has been used in vaccines
for everything from hepatitis B to diptheria/tetanus.

The Food and Drug Adminstration has said there is no evidence that the
preservative is linked to autism. Several studies are being conducted on
whether a possible connection exists.

"Certainly mercury is not good for you, but at the concentrations that were
present in the vaccines, there's no indication that they were harmful,"
said Dr. William Egan, deputy director of the vaccine office at the FDA.

A spokesman for Aventis Pasteur, named in the lawsuit, said he couldn't
comment on pending litigation.

Autism is a permanent neurological disorder which includes difficulty
communicating or become obsessed with repetitive motions, such as head
rolling. They also may have learning difficulties. There is no cure.

The families suing are seeking money for their children's medical care as
well as punitive damages. The lawsuit alleges seven vaccine manufacturers
and five companies that produce thimerosal failed to test the vaccines
properly and warn parents about the risks of the thimerosal.