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Four Oregon families who say their children were harmed by mercury contained in vaccines filed a lawsuit Wednesday against 12 companies that make drugs or distribute them. “Something terrible happened to my son,” said Tory Mead, whose son has autistic symptoms the family attributes to mercury in a vaccine. The lawsuit was announced at the Mead home. The suit contends that four children — one from each of the families — developed neurological problems as a result of thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury used in multi-dose vials since the 1930s. The families claim that a shortened immunization schedule in the 1990s gave their children toxic levels of mercury. The complaint, filed in Multnomah County Court, contends 6 million children throughout the United States received potentially toxic levels of mercury. Five of the companies named in the lawsuit — Pfizer, Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Integra Biosciences, Merck and Company and Baxter International Inc. — said they could not comment on pending litigation. Mariann Caprino, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, also said that company does not make or distribute vaccinations. Thimerosal is used as an extra safeguard against contamination. Drug companies have been phasing out the preservative because of concerns about mercury risks to some children. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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