An action/inaction problem: Vaccinations.
A classic action/inaction problem appears in this Wall Street Journal article: Scott Hensley, As Drug Industry Profits Elsewhere, U.S. Lacks Vaccines and Antibiotics (11/8/05). Apparently, most US drug companies have decided to get out of the vaccination business, leading to shortages of the most effective health measures. The article says that the basic problem is that people are "more inclined" to pay high prices for drugs to cure diseases they already have than low prices to avoid getting ones, so curative drugs are more profitable than preventive ones, even though they cost more and don't work nearly as well. And of course a truly successful vaccine would destroy its own market.
Tort liability plays a secondary role, however: vaccination drug producers were sued for possible side-effects of a mercury-based preservative. The article doesn't say whether these suits were successful (which would, of course, require proving both that the preservative in fact caused the side effects and that it was negligent to use it despite the benefits of vaccination), but does note that defending them cost lots of money.
Of course, there is no rash of lawsuits holding the companies liable for the far larger damage they cause by NOT producing vaccinations, because there is no duty to be in the vaccine business in the first place...
What would be the best way to avoid this irrational result? What would be a politically feasible way? Can tort reform or changes in judicial interpretation of tort law contribute anything useful to this problem at all?