(This was originally posted at http://africanjungle.iblog.co.za/2010/10/07/mmr-and-autism-the-end-of-the-oap/ on the 7th October 2010)
In an earlier post, I wrote about the Omnibus Autism Proceedings before the Vaccine Court in the US. This consisted of families who believed that the MMR vaccine caused their children’s autism and were requesting compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme. The OAP was headed by a Petitioners’ Steering Committee which was tasked with choosing the plaintiffs with the best odds of success as Test Cases, and representing them in court. As I explained, the science behind the MMR-causes-Autism was shown to be invalid, and the six Test Cases chosen by the PSC all lost. Several appeals were mounted, all unsuccessfully. Now, it is Decision Time for the PSC.
In a letter to the PSC, the three Special Masters who decide on cases before the Vaccine Court have notified the PSC that there will be a meeting on 26th October to “discuss the possibilities for resolving the remaining cases in the OAP.
“[T]he Office of Special Masters has begun discussions with members of the petitioners’ bar and respondent’s counsel about how best to conclude the…autism cases remaining open.
For petitioners who wish to continue with their claim, orders to identify a theory of causation, produce an expert report, and file additional evidence will follow.”
In practical terms, this probably means the end for the OAP. The original theories of causation were shown to be incorrect, to put it politely. The experts and evidence were also found to be wanting. Any petitioner wishing to proceed will need to produce a theory of causation (i.e. a way in which the MMR caused their child’s autism), sound evidence that supports the theory, and at least one credible expert to show why the theory is valid. I suspect that none of the remaining petitioners will be able to do this.
Some families have already requested voluntary dismissal of their cases. I believe that the remaining families will decide to not continue with their cases and also request dismissal.