Tomorrow's AEI event on The Cutter Incident will be broadcast live on C-SPAN2 at 10 am.
Two events which took place in the mid-1950s have exerted since then an extraordinary influence over health care. The first event was the development of an effective vaccine against polio, a scientific triumph over a fearsome communicable disease that had crippled or killed thousands of people annually, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt. The second event was the litigation over an imperfectly prepared polio vaccine which caused injuries or death to hundreds of children�an event now known as the Cutter Incident. The Cutter litigation has played a pivotal role in changing the products-liability system to a liability-without-fault standard in which manufacturers must pay for damages, even in the absence of negligence.
In his book The Cutter Incident : How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis (Yale University Press, 2005), Paul A. Offit provides a fascinating narrative of these two seminal events and concludes that this unfortunate turn in liability law has reduced today�s vaccine supply and, most importantly, has retarded the development of new vaccines. The author�s presentation will be followed by a discussion with Randy Bovbjerg of the Urban Institute and AEI resident scholar John E. Calfee.