Eli Lilly Payback Provision in the
Homeland Security Bill
The conservative argument in favor of the special Eli Lilly Payback
Provision of the Homeland Security bill is essentially this: there's
no scientific evidence linking the vaccine preservative thimerosal to
autism--only anecdotal (which is true).
The evil trial lawyers, however, will use this anecdotal evidence to
bankrupt, I tell you, bankrupt the pharmaceutical industry, and then
when the terrorists unleash smallpox or some other biological agent upon
us, we'll have no vaccines with which to protect ourselves, because the
pharmaceutical companies will have all closed up shop and gone home.
Of course, this imaginative justification still doesn't explain why
the provision was added to the bill at the last minute under cover of
darkness, nor why Trent Lott had to promise to "revisit" the
issue because even moderate Republicans blanched at passing the bill
with this provision intact.
Nor does it address some other interesting points Bob Herbert brought
Now this has nothing to do with homeland security. Nothing. This is not
a provision that will in any way protect us from the ferocious evil of
Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So why is it there? Perhaps it has something
to do with the fact that the major drug companies have become a gigantic
collective cash machine for politicians, and that the vast majority of
that cash goes to Republicans.
Or maybe it's related to the fact that Mitch Daniels, the White House
budget director, is a former Eli Lilly big shot. Or the very convenient
fact that just last June President Bush appointed Eli Lilly's chairman,
president and C.E.O., Sidney Taurel, to a coveted seat on the president's
Homeland Security Advisory Council.
There's a real bad smell here. Eli Lilly will benefit greatly as both
class-action and individual lawsuits are derailed. But there are no fingerprints
in sight. No one will own up to a legislative deed that is both cynical