MARIN COUNTY: Plea Bargain Entered in Diluted Vaccine Case
A Marin County pediatrician agreed yesterday to relinquish his medical license and close his medical practice to avoid felony charges after he was accused of diluting vaccines given to his patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. Dr. William Liebman, known by many of his patients as "Dr. Bill," was charged in November with three felony counts of fraud and tampering with the vaccines. Prosecutors said that Liebman had diluted the vaccines as a cost-saving measure. Under the deal, Liebman's medical practice entered a plea of "adulterating drugs with the intent to defraud" and will close its doors Aug. 15 (Bailey, 6/13). Liebman will not receive any jail time, but he still could be slapped with a $10,000 fine. Noting that the investigation took "a huge toll" on the doctor, Liebman's attorney Penny Cooper said that he has "elected to advance his long-planned retirement." Despite the plea bargain, Liebman continued to profess his innocence. His lawyers argued that a "disgruntled nurse" had tampered with the vaccines (Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/13). Liebman agreed to the deal because he "wanted to take responsibility for any conduct that might have occurred on 'his watch.'" The allegations against the doctor drew "sharply divided" reactions from his patients. Linda Curry, a Liebman supporter said after the plea bargain, "This man has been a pillar of the community -- he's been available above and beyond the call of duty for his patients." Still, others expressed relief that Liebman would no longer be able to practice medicine. Patricia Henle, whose son was Liebman's patient, said, "If there's any one thing that can come out of this, it's that every single child treated by Dr. Liebman needs to be tested." Prosecutors estimated that as many as 2,500 children may have received the less-potent vaccines (Los Angeles Times, 6/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.