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Olmsted on Autism: Paul Offit, False Prophet

Moldy_cheese_2 By Dan Olmsted

Paul Offit is the Philadelphia cream cheese of the autism debate -- he smears so effortlessly. It was on page 149 that I finally had enough of his latest smear-fest, Autism’s False Prophets. I put the book down and thought of attorney Joseph Welch’s famous rejoinder to Sen. Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness. … Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Here is the passage that brought me to this point. Offit, chief of infectious diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is talking about Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who was telling Don Imus how his concern about environmental mercury contamination led him to look into the mercury used in vaccines.

“In his explanation to Imus, Kennedy had omitted a few facts about how he had became an activist,” Offit writes.

“In 1983, following a conviction for possession of illegal drugs, Kennedy was sentenced to two years’ probation, periodic drug testing, mandatory supervision by Narcotics Anonymous, and 800 hours of community service. He satisfied his community service by working for the Hudson River Foundation, now called the Hudson Riverkeepers. Later, Kennedy became its chief prosecuting attorney.”

Get the picture? Apparently Kennedy cannot be taken seriously because, a full 25 years ago, he got busted for possessing drugs. His entire public career is fruit of the poisoned tree -- drug addiction! Gotcha! Who knew? Never mind that his uncle, and then his father, had been assassinated on national television, that another uncle who has devoted his life to decent health care is currently dying from a brain tumor; never mind that he has since been involved in good works, and that the merits of his argument rise and fall independent of his resume. Nope, it’s good dirt and we’re gonna fling it -- Kennedy “omitted” telling Imus he was a drug addict with a criminal record a quarter-century ago; Paul Offit will be glad to remind you.

This is how the doctor operates -- character assassination. Anyone who disagrees with him, and dares to say so or even let someone else say so, is ripe for the Kennedy treatment. The list of those who violate Offit’s Law is therefore endless, running from the usual suspects like Andy Wakefield to the late Tim Russert (who never should have had David Kirby on, only the IOM president), from Neal Halsey (who never should have pushed to phase out thimerosal from childhood vaccines) to Joe Lieberman (who never should have said parents had an argument worth listening to). Bernardine Healy and the Polings? Nowhere to be found -- that would amount to picking on someone Offit’s own size -- but no doubt they have been dispatched to the dustbin of history as well.

Offit’s approach is not only ad hominem -- against the man, not the argument. It’s also extreme and inaccurate. There is no analogy too wild to wield against those whose scientific crime is holding a different opinion.

For instance, by the time he is done talking about the outrage of removing thimerosal from vaccines, he devolves into describing a woman trying to slash her breast with a razor blade. And what does this have to do with whether ethyl mercury is a good thing to inject into pregnant women? Well, because silicone breast implants were once taken off the market, even though there was nothing wrong with them, and one woman was so freaked out by the irresponsible media coverage that she took a razor blade and … you get the idea.

Then there are the plain old errors. As a journalist, I always look to see whether the things I know most about are correctly characterized, even if the author then goes on to analyze them differently than I would. If the facts I do know are right, that gives me confidence that the author is playing straight in areas I know nothing about.

Based on that, I’ve got no confidence in False Prophets. To start close to home, Offit spells my name wrong -- it’s Olmsted, not Olmstead. Also, I have practically memorized Leo Kanner’s 1943 study of 11 children, “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.” So I knew something was wrong when Offit says it starts this way: “There has come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far …” I checked my dog-eared copy. The first sentence ever written about autism, and arguably the most important, starts like this: “SINCE 1938, there HAVE come to our attention …” Picky, picky? You make the call.

One reason Offit seems to feel free to attack others mercilessly is that it has been done to him. I for one have no personal animus toward him -- I’m sure his views are strongly held, based on what he believes to be the best interests of children and the importance of science versus uninformed and dangerous criticism. While the fact that he is a vaccine inventor and receives money from pharmaceutical companies needs to be taken into account, he’s been reasonably upfront about that (and the veiled and not-so-veiled threats he says he has received are despicable). I’m much more interested in opening up the scientific and advisory process to more sunlight and more groups -- including parents and independent researchers -- than I am in banishing Paul Offit because he invented a vaccine (banishing people from the autism debate is Offit’s strategy, actually).

He’s just wrong, that’s all, and not just on minor things. He says that mercuric chloride -- an inorganic mercury salt -- was used as an antiseptic starting in the 19th century but it was “unfortunately an irritant. Early in the 20th century, a new, more effective, less toxic derivative of mercury came into favor: ethylmercury.”

That is pure fantasy. No toxicologist would assert or agree that an organic alkyl mercury compound such as ethyl mercury is less toxic than an inorganic formulation like mercuric chloride.  The two compounds are often used in scientific studies as exemplars of the vastly greater toxicity of organic mercury. This is not an arcane or complicated issue (in Offit’s language, it’s not really subject to question).

Offit in the past has made unsubstantiated statements that ethyl mercury is far less neurotoxic -- in fact, “a gentle bacteriostat” -- when compared with methyl mercury, the kind that gets into fish that pregnant women are warned not to consume. That’s folly, too (see Burbacher et al. about the greater amount of ethyl mercury that settles in the brain, or just recall Boyd Haley’s folksy formulation that the difference between them is “Oink” and “Oink oink”). But this is so demonstrably uninformed that it undercuts Offit’s entire argument. He simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and it’s plain to see on page 62. The guy’s a doctor, not a toxicologist, and the limits of his knowledge are everywhere on display.

Yet armed with a deep sense of outrage and a profound misunderstanding of fundamental facts, Offit believes he’s entitled to shout the rest of us down, smear those who won’t shut up and end the entire debate over autism and vaccines.

Thank God for the First Amendment. I have a feeling it’s one of Dr. Offit’s least favorites, and I bet he’s got enough dirt on the Founding Fathers to make a pretty strong case against it. Did you know Thomas Jefferson owned slaves?
--
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

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Dr. Paul Offit disagrees with anything in Wakefield’s 1998 paper on autism, colitis and vaccines without providing a solution to autism. That paper, however, provides a useful starting point for an investigation of autism, colitis and vaccines.

A number of web sites report that colitis attacks can be caused by various entities including respiratory infections. Measles is an upper respiratory viral infection. Measles is a wild source of respiratory infection, but MMR, is manmade and exposure to MMR is mandated. This information agrees with parental reports that vaccines triggered biological disorders. Adverse reactions to MMR vaccine, diarrhea and ear infections are also complications of measles. (Bottle feeding is also a risk for ear infections, another disorder associated with regressive autism.)

Now another question, what established conditions which made the individual vulnerable to the ‘trigger’? Rigas reports that bottle feeding is a risk for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Thus, breast feeding and avoiding respiratory infections might be a way to reduce the incidence of regressive autism.

For more details:

http://www.sleepnet.com/apnea134/messages/253.html

MinorityView:
Thank you for this information. Like Luke's Mom, I've been searching for information like this.

Leslie

Luke's Mom,
Insidevaccines has been doing a series on the claim that vaccines are saving thousands of lives every year in the U.S. Here are the links to the first 3 articles. Numbers 4 and 5 should be out soon.
http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/2008/06/16/where-do-they-find-these-scary-statistics/
http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/2008/07/28/where-do-they-find-these-scary-statistics-part-ii/
http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/2008/09/02/where-do-they-find-these-scary-statistics-iii-lets-make-a-few-assumptions-hepatitis-b/

The brief answer is that the CDC seems to be making up the numbers of lives saved by vaccines. The science to support the claims just doesn't exist.

I have a question that no one seems to be able to answer: All of the pro-vaccination people seems to bring up at some point that vaccines are saving more lives than harming. How do they know for sure? We know for sure that these vaccine are harming kids -- obviously enough -- but how can anyone know that a child who doesn't have the autism reaction to toxic vaccination poisoning has been helped?

And if people really believe -- as I've heard some docs say -- that some of these diseases are only a plane ride away and therefore vaccinating is a good thing -- WHY, THEN, AREN'T THEY ADVOCATING THAT EVERYONE SHOULD GET VACCINATED.

Or for that matter - as long as the argument is that there are diseases which are only a plane ride away -- why don't they put those vaccinations on a plane and take them to where there are supposedly needed -- to the source?

Sorry if I sound naive -- I'm just another fed-up mother.

For anyone who might believe what Paul Offit writes or says, I am reminded of the words of a rather clever 5 year old boy in my school: "Well, if you believe that, youre gullible"

Unincidentally, I was appalled to hear today that VAP website has been hacked into and is likely to be down for an extended period. If this is how people like Offit, not to mention Berners-Lee and Ghosh (see my previous post) think the future should be, our politicians ought to consider what is tolerable in a alleged free society.

As the poet Heinrich Heine noted in 1823: "Where they burn books, they will in the end burn people".

"Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen."

These people already have the advantage of media domination, but they will not allow a word of dissent. If their science is so perfect, why cannot they discuss it?

Where are my social graces?

I'm sorry.

Dan, great article (as usual). I just re-read my comment and realized it could be taken the wrong way. Your article certainly isn't drivel, Offit's book is, and it is certainly not a waste of time to comment on your article.

Offit himself, now there's a waste of time. I do however think our time would be better spent trying to get the guy terminated from his position due to extreme conflict of interest. I'm sure CHOP doesn't want to be known for letting pharma shills and profiteers run even a small part of their organization. The question is, how many people really know this is the case? (hint, pick up where Sharyl left off)

Meeting him head on only lends credibility to his warped views, and financially motivated statements.

Incidentally, I see today that Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, would like to silence us too - or maybe this was just slipped into the conversation by the BBC's leading science propagandist, Pallab Ghosh:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7613201.stm

http://www.sciencewritersawards.co.uk/science/past/2003/gallery/cat1-L.htm

Where is the "sense of decency" indeed?

Dan:

Thank you for your review. Having just returned from the local BN store and reading page 93 of his book I have two questions.

1) AUTISM QUESTION Offit talks about Verstraeten and the thimerosal/mercury – Autism link discussion at the Simpsonwood conference in 2000. How can Offit put in a biased statement that mercury doesn’t cause autism while he is quoting Verstraeten? Since I didn’t buy it, can you check your copy for Offit’s exact words? Even Verstraeten says “more study is required.”
2) BRAIN INJURY QUESTION Verstraeten ADMITS a link to “neurodevelopment outcomes “was found when he states “The CDC screening study of thimerosal-containing vaccines was perceived at first as a positive study that found an association between thimerosal and some neurodevelopmental outcomes. This was the perception both independent scientists and antivaccine lobbyists had at the conclusion of the first phase of the study.” And Verstraeten ADMITS that if a study finds no link that does not mean there is not one. It just means they don’t know. He said “Very often, however, there is a third interpretation: an association can neither be found nor refuted.” And then Verstraeten says the first study showed a link but the second did not confirm or deny a link and concludes that the two studies combined makes them neutral. He says “Because the findings of the first phase were not replicated in the second phase, the perception of the study changed from a positive to a neutral study.” So my question is - if you find a penny under one shell in a well lit room and then go to a different room where the lights are turned off and you can’t see under the second shell do you then ignore the first penny and say the results are neutral – no evidence of pennies? 1 + 0 = 0?

For Verstraeten’s statement see http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/113/4/932

For Lyn Redwood’s Congressional testimony on evidence of a link between vaccines/thimerosal/mercury and Autism see
http://www.safeminds.org/pressroom/press_releases/redwoodsafemindssept8testimonyfullfinal.pdf


Offit is brilliant actually. He has found a way to spin everything out of control. He is not only that, but corrupt, immoral, greedy, and evil to the core. I could not bring myself to spend the money on his book because I do not want to contribute a nickel to his campaign. Thank you for sharing this lunatic's appalling work Dan. I just cannot believe that you had the stomach to go all the way to page 149! You are a brave soul.

Taking advice from Paul Offit on autism or vaccines would be like asking Michael Jackson for his views on criminal punishment for child molesters.

One of these days I'm going to get a picture of him from behind so we can play pin the tail on the jackass at my son's next birthday party.

The book itself should be printed on a roll of soft paper so we can hang it in the bathroom and make it useful.

Seriously folks. I'm seeing some great minds wasting great time to comment on this drivel. I'm personally at the point now where if I see the name "Offit" my mind shuffles the word around to read "Avoidit".

It was such a beautiful day today. We spent time playing with the dog in the yard, enjoying what might possibly be the last warm weekend of the year for us. Nothing crazy. No amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, long trips, etc. Just "hangin out".

I hope some of you were able to do the same, instead of wasting today thinking about prOffit. He's not worth it.

Y-a-w-n... More tedious arcanum from a precious University press, though it's somewhat enlivened by the unprofessional argumentum ad hominem of its ethically conflicted author. Pass me a copy of "Deconstructing Deconstruction" instead, please.

Offit's vanity press book aside, have any of these so-called "anti-vaccine" cyphers ever physically blocked consumers' access to vaccines? Lying on sidewalks, chaining themselves to doors and such? Didn't think so.

What I see are people working to open access to guarded vaccine safety databases, or opening minds bombarded since birth with the myth of a purely altruistic CDC. People who've realized that self-serving memos drive a bureaucratic chain of fools who abrogate personal responsibility for vaccine safety truth.

This book belongs in Fiction.

I keep hearing, reading, and seeing stories about the donation of some to all of the profits going to Autism Research. I would love to track that money and find out how he dupes the American public into buying a book that they think is going to help our children. I still think a boycott is in order. Wouldn't be ironic if he ends up going to jail for fraud?

Dr. Offit is not a false prophet is a pig for profit. He is willing to kill and brain damage our children for money and we are letting him and others like him do it at their leisure. The last thing these people are interested in is science they are only interested in money. We have to carefully get together and pass laws that punish people like Dr. Offit. Clearly from the information above this is beyond a mere conflict of interest and is clearly conspiratorial driven by capitalism and profit and most likely on many levels including some very high politicians. As parents and adults we have to put our families and specifically our brain injured children first far and above any other political cause or ideation including the Iraq war, the economy, abortion, gays and lesbian rights whatever that is now, our favorite lesbian or black or female or old politician and their respective parties and pass state and federal laws.

This means that we will have to get signatures and pay money ourselves because most politicians belong to one of the two big political parties and they have both been bought off by big pharmacy and they will pacify you with only talk. However once we get the law properly formed and written get the necessary signatures to be placed on the ballot make it retroactive include all of the assholes like Dr. Offit all of the pharmaceutical big wigs all of the people no matter how lowly (i.e. false web sites that have been paid for by a pharmaceutical slush fund to discredit any thought of vaccine relation to autism thus making them collaborators in this vaccine scam) AND ALL I MEAN ALL OF THE POLITICIANS that have participated in this unspeakable tragedy for ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY and see to it that they receive real hard jail time and economically devastating fines you will see real serious change real fast.

This will of course require that we all exhibit real courage and commit time and money and most importantly be prepared to be challenge on a number of different levels by various individuals like Dr. Offit who is truly a coward and a disgrace to his profession to which I also belong. Until we as parents and citizens muster up the ingredients above we will be nothing more than complainers and we will have let our children down for the second time. Should any of you decide that this is what you want to do no matter where you are in the country I am ready to participate. We need a national strategy now.

Dan,
Thanks for reading this and giving us a run down. Do not believe I could stomach it.
If Dr O is so fearfull of his life and has recieved "credible threats", why isn't anyone in jail?
Has anyone even heard of an arrest, and he does have a tendency to exaggerate.
Also, I wonder where his bodyguards are when he gets in the face of women and attempts to menace them? I personally know of 2 and have heard of more that Dr O has taken this tact with. That's the type of conduct that professional bodyguards try to stop their clients from engaging in.
If this book is his best shot at defending his livelihood, it's time for him to find a new line of work. I hear toxic waste removal is a growth industry.

Paul Offit is at the very best, a person lacking in sense and science, but he is used by the AAP to spread their false notions of the safety of thimerosal, and in so doing he dupes even the pediatricians of America who dont have time to look into issues at length . I recall an article entitled something like "Vaccines- No Link to Autism" published in the AAP newsletter some years back, in which he chuckled at the foolishness of Mady Hornig- Just imagine how foolish she was- to do experiments with mice and when they became autistic, to think that this might have some bearing on autistic children ! The AAP officebearers should hand their heads in shame, for duping the pediatricians of America and tacitly encouraging the poisoning of the third world's children along with Americas children who still get mercury through flu vaccines.

Lisa
If you're into reading books and looking for small phrases in books I have a couple for you. I dare you to look them up...dust off the good book and put down the false phophets book.
Exodus 20:13 and 20:16 along with 23:1 and 23:2. How about these to live by 23:5 and 23:7
And this one for Mr Offit himself Exodus 23:8 to live by.

Hi Lisa,

I'm in there on page 182, where Offit laments a balanced Columbia Journalism Review article that "praised journalists such as Myron Levin of the Los Angeles Times, Dan Olmstead of United Press International, and Craig Westover of the St. Paul Pioneer Press for their bravery in taking on powerful establishments." He doesn't mention Age of Autism or, as best I can recall, Bernie Rimland. Perhaps that's just as well given his antipathy to anyone who has ever looked cross-eyed at immunizations. -- dan

It says on all the advertisments for this Paul Offit book that he is donating all the profits to Autism research. So, I guess I won't feel so bad about buying a copy. That way when my severly damaged son with Autism is a genius after college he can read this , and laugh at Dr.Paul Offit.And point out why he is so wrong,wrong, and WRONG. I only have to wait 15 to 18 years for him to finish college. I am sure Dr. Offit will have crawled back under his rock by then. Mercury is toxic, face it pal.

You'll find the transcript of the June 15, 2000 House of Representatives' Committee on Government Reform hearing entitled: FACA: Conflicts of Interest and Vaccine Development - Preserving the Integrity of the Process here -

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_house_hearings&docid=f:73042.pdf

This transcript contains Congressman Burton's opening statement.

ok, dumb questions - I have been reading through Offit's book, and checking through the index, and am finding no mention of Age of Autism (the journalistic series) nor any mention of Dan Olmsted. There are also only peripheral mentions of Bernard Rimland - who, from all accounts, was a major player in the autism/vaccine debate since early on, and a researcher whose findings have played a significant role in this whole controversy.

Can you guys tell me where AofA is mentioned - or correct me if I'm wrong in regards to Rimland?

Thanks,

Lisa Rudy (autism.about.com)

"Paul Offit is Voldemort" bumperstickers - free. Send me you address and I will mail you one. alison at davalinee@comcast.net

Judging by my Google alerts the crossing guards of our community are already on high alert, telling every pimple faced 19 year old security guard at the mall to be on the lookout for me as I approach B&N. I'm off to celebrate my youngest daughter's 8th birthday today. Happy Sunday.

Congressman Dan Burton, Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, investigated conflict of interest of members of FDA vaccine development and approval committees. I have included Dan Burton’s opening statement for that meeting. (As far as I can determine this statement is no longer available on line.) Please note that Paul Offit, in spite of the fact that he held the patent for the Rotavirus Vaccine, was given a ‘conflict of interest waiver’ by the FDA, and was a member of the committee overseeing this vaccine’s approval.


CONGRESSMAN DAN BURTON'S OPENING STATEMENT FOR THE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE PROBE INTO CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN THE CDC-FDA ADVISORY COMMITTEES 15 June 2000
inbox for thepaulshapiro@yahoo.com
From: NANCALE@aol.com (E-M this address and get on the E-M distribution list)
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 20:25:51 EDT
Subject: Congressman Burton's Opening Statement
Some of the hearing testimony is already up on Congressman Burton's web site..
http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.15/index.htm
Below is Congressman Burton's Opening Statement Opening Statement
Chairman Dan Burton, Committee on Government Reform
“FACA: Conflicts of Interest and Vaccine Development: Preserving the Integrity of the Process”
Thursday, June 15, 2000, 1:00 pm , 2154 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Today, we are going to continue our series of hearings on vaccine policy. For the last few months, we’ve been focusing on two important advisory committee and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rely on these advisory committees to help them make vaccine policies that affect every child in this country. We’ve looked very carefully at conflicts of interest. We’ve taken a good hard look at whether the pharmaceutical industry has too much influence over these committees. From the evidence we found, I think they do.

The first committee is the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). This Committee makes recommendations on whether new vaccines should be licensed. The second committee is the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP). This committee recommends which vaccines should be included on the Childhood Immunization Schedule.

To make these issues easier to understand, we’re going to focus on one issue handled by these two committees – the Rotavirus vaccine. It was approved for use by the FDA in August 1998. It was recommended for universal use by the CDC in March 1999. Serious problems cropped up shortly after it was introduced. Children started developing serious bowel obstructions. The vaccine was pulled from the U.S. market in October
1999. So the question is, was there evidence to indicate that the vaccine was not safe and if so, why was it licensed in the first place? How good a job did the advisory committees do? We’ve reviewed the minutes of the meetings. At the FDA’s committee, there were discussions about adverse events. They were aware of potential problems. Five children out of 10,000 developed bowel obstructions. There were also concerns about children failing to thrive and developing high fevers, which as we know from other vaccine hearings, can lead to brain injury. Even with all of these concerns, the committee voted unanimously to approve it.

At the CDC’s committee, there was a lot of discussion about whether the benefits of the vaccine really justified the costs. Even though the cost-benefit ratio was questioned, the Committee voted unanimously to approve it. Were they vigilant enough? Were they influenced by the pharmaceutical industry? Was there appropriate balance of expertise and perspectives on vaccine issues? We’ve been reviewing their financial disclosure statements. We’ve interviewed staff from the FDA and the CDC. The staff has prepared a staff report summarizing what we’ve found. At the end of my statement, I’ll ask unanimous consent to enter this report into the record. We’ve identified a number of problems that need to be brought to light and discussed.

Families need to have confidence that the vaccines that their children take are safe, effective, and truly necessary. Doctors need to feel confident that when the FDA licenses a drug, that it is really safe, and that the pharmaceutical industry has not influenced the decision-making process. Doctors place trust in the FDA and assume that if the FDA has licensed a drug, it’s safe to use. Has that trust been violated? How confident in the safety and need for specific vaccines would doctors and parents be if they learned the following:
1 That members, including the Chair, of the FDA and CDC advisory committees who make these decisions own stock in drug companies that make vaccines.
2. That individuals on both advisory committees own patents for vaccines under consideration or affected by the decisions of the committee.
3 That three out of five of the members of the FDA’s advisory committee who voted for the rotavirus vaccine had conflicts of interest that were waived.
4. That seven individuals of the 15 member FDA advisory committee were not present at the meeting, two others were excluded from the vote, and the remaining five were joined by five temporary voting members who all voted to license the product.
5. That the CDC grants conflict-of-interest waivers to every member of their advisory committee a year at a time, and allows full
participation in the discussions leading up to a vote by every member, whether they have a financial stake in the decision or not.
6. That the CDC’s advisory committee has no public members – no parents have a vote in whether or not a vaccine belongs on the childhood immunization schedule. The FDA’s committee only has one public member.

These are just a few of the problems we found. Specific examples of this include: Dr. John Modlin— He served for four years on the CDC advisory committee and became the Chair in February 1998. He participated in the FDA’s committee as well owned stock in Merck, one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines, valued at $26,000. He also serves on Merck’s Immunization Advisory Board. Dr. Modlin was the Chairman of the Rotavirus working group. He voted yes on eight different matters pertaining to the ACIP’s rotavirus statement, including recommending for routine use and for inclusion in the Vaccines for Children program. It was not until this past year, that Dr. Modlin decided to divest himself of his vaccine manufacturer stock.

At our April 6 autism hearing, Dr. Paul Offit disclosed that he holds a patent on a rotavirus vaccine and receives grant money from Merck to develop this vaccine. He also disclosed that he is paid by the pharmaceutical industry to travel around the country and teach doctors that vaccines are safe. Dr. Offit is a member of the CDC’s advisory committee and voted on three rotavirus issues – including making the recommendation of adding the rotavirus vaccine to the Vaccines for Children’s program.

Dr. Patricia Ferrieri, during her tenure as Chair of the FDA’s advisory committee, owned stock in Merck valued at $20,000 and was granted a full waiver.

Dr. Neal Halsey, who serves as a liaison member to the CDC committee on behalf of the American Association of Pediatrics, and as a consultant to the FDA’s committee, has extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry, including having solicited and received start up funds from industry for his Vaccine Center. As a liaison member to the CDC committee, Dr. Halsey is there to represent the opinions of the organization he represents, but was found in the transcripts to be offering his personal opinion as well.

Dr. Harry Greenberg, who serves as Chair of the FDA committee, owns $120,000 of stock in Aviron, a vaccine manufacturer. He also is a paid member of the board of advisors of Chiron, another vaccine manufacturer and owns $40,000 of stock. This stock ownership was deemed not to be a conflict and a waiver was granted. To the FDA’s credit, he was excluded from the rotavirus discussion because he holds the patent on the rotashield vaccine.

How confident can we be in the process when we learned that most of the work of the CDC advisory committee is done in “working groups” that meet behind closed doors, out of the public eye? Members who can’t vote in the full committee because of conflicts of interest are allowed to work on the same issues in working groups, and there is no public scrutiny. I was appalled to learn that at least six of the ten individuals who
participated in the working group for the rotavirus vaccine had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies developing rotavirus vaccines. How confident can we be in the recommendations with the Food and Drug Administration when the chairman and other individuals on their advisory committee own stock in major manufacturers of vaccines?

How confident can we be in a system when the agency seems to feel that the number of experts is so few that everyone has a conflict and thus waivers must be granted. It almost appears that there is a “old boys network” of vaccine advisors that rotate between the CDC and FDA – at times serving simultaneously. Some of these individuals serve for more than four years. We found one instance where an individual served for sixteen years continually on the CDC committee. With over 700,000 physicians in this country, how can one person be so indispensable that they stay on a committee for 11 years?

It is important to determine if the Department of Health and Human Services has become complacent in their implementation of the legal requirements on conflicts of interest and committee management. If the law is too loose, we need to change it. If the agencies aren’t doing their job, they need to be held accountable. That’s the purpose of this hearing, to try to determine what needs to be done.


Why is this review necessary? Vaccines are the only substances that a government agency mandates a United States citizen receive. State governments have the authority to mandate vaccines be given to children prior to admission to day care centers and schools. State governments rely on the recommendations of the CDC and the FDA to determine the type and schedule of vaccines.

I am not alone in my concern about the increasing influence of industry on medicine. Last year, the New England Journal of Medicine learned that 18 individuals who wrote drug therapy review articles had financial ties to the manufacturer of the drugs discussed. The Journal, which has the most stringent conflict of interest disclosures of medical journals, had a recent editorial discussing the increasing level of academic research funded by the industry. The editor stated, “What is at issue is not whether researchers can be 'bought' in the sense of a quid pro quo, it is that close and remunerative collaboration with a company naturally creates goodwill on the part of researchers and the hope that the largesse will continue. This attitude can subtly influence scientific judgment.”

Can the FDA and the CDC really believe that scientists are more immune to self-interest than other people? Maintaining the highest level of integrity over the entire spectrum of vaccine development and implementation is essential.

The Department of Health and Human Services has a responsibility to the American public to ensure the integrity of this process by working diligently to appoint individuals that are totally without financial ties to the vaccine industry to serve on these and all vaccine-related panels.
No individual who stands to gain financially from the decisions regarding vaccines that may be mandated for use should be participating in the discussion or policy making for vaccines. We have repeatedly heard in our hearings that vaccines are safe and needed to protect the public. If the panels that have made the decisions on all vaccines on the Childhood Immunization Schedule had as many conflicts as we found with rotavirus, then the entire process has been polluted and the public trust has been violated. I intend to find out if the individuals who have made these recommendations that effect every child in this country and around the world, stood to gain financially and professionally from the decisions of the committees they served on. The hearing record will remain open until June 28 for those who would like to submit a statement into the hearing record

I think much of this discussion hinges on the state of knowledge of today's medical profession. Doctors simply don't know that much. They don't have the time, and they can't be bothered. Some of us have researched the subject, and we know what we are talking about. But considering the state of the country, I think we have to start educating people. The fact that Offit attacks Kennedy, only shows his insecurity. Yet, he knows he has the sheepskin and we don't. The problem with his sheepskin is that it still bleats: Baaah! There are those who do something with their knowledge, and there are those who don't. I hope the population finds its tipping point to see the dangers of mercury.

"Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

What a great quote and how fitting to compare it with Offit's behavior. He appears to have some buddies over on the OC blog, where Sam has also given his opinion of chapter 1.
http://autism.freedomblogging.com/2008/09/11/review-autisms-false-prophets-chapter-1/

I could not agree more with you, Dan, though I am a bit more harsh on the topic. You did a terrific job summarizing the facts and stating your opinion.

At the CDC ACIP meeting I witnessed a kindly old doctor clutching one of Paul Offit's past books. I shared with him my child's story. How he was normal, waving, singing and knew are names until his vaccines were doubled. We didn't need to have 10,000 or 100,000 to plunge into Autism just 15 in one day.
It is hard to believe that Robert Kennedy's youthful drug indiscretions would trump profiteering from vaccines.
Every time I see Paul Offit at ACIP I think there goes the guy who got wealthy off a Roto-virus vaccine - that impacted bowels in children and killed them.
It's hard to believe anyone but public health officials would count him an unbiased expert.
I comfort myself remembering there are more of us than him.

Hi
Considering many aspects, one aspect that is not correctly presented- in general- is the mention of "ethylmercury" as a neutral species. Ethyl mercury should be called EtHg+ (or ethyl mercury ion) and as a group needs a counterion ( in this case a negative ion) to be part of a neutral compound. You can find the group in neutral compounds such as thimerosal or EtHgCl and the importance of the counterion is not minor ( Cl- or C7H4NaO2S- ). The same with methylmercury, it is a cation MeHg+ and the source of it is also important, such as toxicologists know.
http://www.epa.gov/teach/chem_summ/mercury_org_summary.pdf


I am not a toxicology doctor, but a chemist- an the mom of an autistic child.

I, too, wonder why Offit wants to talk about false prophets.

http://kerboblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/sinking-of-ss-proquad.html

As it threatens to slip off the recent comments list I would just like to draw LJ's attention to my response to his remark re the Thoughtful House press release concerning the Hornig study:

http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/09/autism-research.html

Kim I love that idea. I think I'd rather read the book about snail mating habits than to read a nonsence book like this one. Craig, at risk of really making your Mom in law mad...I would let your son work his special magic on the book and send it back to her. Or you could always bring it to my house and let Riley work his special magic on it and I'll send it to her ;)Would save her getting mad at you for it.
It still continues to amaze me that this man is allowed to be the "expert" that everyone in the media turns too, when time and time again, he has been proven to be a slobbering idiot. I especially like when he corrected himself with the 10,000 vaccines thing and said "no, no, I said 100,000 vaccines" If you're going to quote me at least get my stupidity right.
You know how when you look at someone making a fool of themselves and you feel that, almost, sad feeling for them? Knowing that they are going to be so embarrassed later? I hope that Mr Offit has at least the sense to be embarrassed and maybe we'll get lucky and he will crawl back under the rock from which he came from under.
I can not understand why just because he has Dr. in front of his name that it discludes him from prosecution of murder and child abuse.

Hang on to that copy Dan. Its value will come down the road when, in a more enlightened time, people will marvel not only at the ignorance/arrogance of the time but that this man was the “go to guy”. We should really be thanking Dr. Offit for putting it in print, forever linking his name. Your review should be submitted to all the online book stores (Canadian versions too!).

Recently, Dr. Boyd Haley, a top expert on mercury toxicity, wrote to me about being once asked to debate Paul Offit on a radio show. Haley told the interviewer that he would bet her that Offit would never agree to the interview. Haley won! He further said, "Offit likes beating up on mothers of autistic children, but he can't face anyone with a moderate knowledge of thimerosal or vaccine toxicity. He may know something about producing a vaccine, but he knows next to nothing about toxicology."

That simple point never seems to matter to members of the press who love to quote Offit. Turning the laws of science upside down and claiming that it's fine and dandy to inject the deadliest non-radioactive element into children defies understanding.

Offit reminds me of the little kid who gets in trouble for doing something and continues to claim he didn't it, no matter how obvious it is that he's guilty. The guiding principle here is, "Maybe if I just keep saying over and over, it'll really be true."

Anne Dachel
Media editor

There is bad reporting... Then there is irresponsible reporting...

Health Alert: Child Autism and Vaccines
http://cbs3.com/health/Health.Alert.Austism.2.816343.html

This is what I was saying earlier about little lies become fact...

I think we need to write to Stephanie...
stahl@cbs3.com

"Easy - sit at Barnes and Noble, browse a copy while you sip a latte (oopsie! don't spill!) and then when you return the book to the shelf, tuck in a copy of Dan's review.... And return it to the shelf labeled, "Eastern Aborginal Snail Mating Habits in the 15th Century." Five years down the road, go back and give it a good dusting..."

Actually that is perfect. I wouldn't spend a dime on this book BUT I could set aside a few minutes to browse for fun. Great idea about adding a "review" in there too.

ps. Should I wear gloves while browsing and adding a piece of paper to the copy? Could I get in trouble... I'm just asking :)

I take comfort in the fact that ECBT, Voices for Vaccines, and now this silly book by Offit exist. They are all proof positive evidence that many, many parents are opening their eyes to the damage caused by vaccines. Big Pharma feels really threatened by our community, and by the obvious truth of what is happening to our children, and that is nothing short of wonderful.

Stagmom - Your comment was way too funny! : )

My mother-in-law is someone on the opposite side of the vaccine debate. She sent my wife and I a copy of this book last week, and I haven't even looked at it. I've personally been trying to decide what to do with it. One idea was to tear out the pages and use them to line the bottom of my bird cage. Shred the pages and use them as hamster bedding? Tear out the pages for when you run out of toilet paper? Cutting out the picture of Pauly PrOffit on the back sleeve and pasting it to a dart board? Or, give it to my son and let him perform his own special brand of love and magic on the book, tearing out the pages and flinging them about his room. Hey, maybe someone will get some joy from this filth.....

See, we can all do something productive with this book if we try :)

So is it problematic for you all that J.B. Handley doesn't know the difference between a chimp and a macaque? Or is that too nit-picky of a detail to matter?

http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/09/is-autism-speak.html

From Managing Editor: LJ, I thought you were referring to the photo I used on an earlier piece. That said, no, I'm quite certain JB knows the difference - thanks for pointing out a random detail rather than focusing on the actual point of the story.

Easy - sit at Barnes and Noble, browse a copy while you sip a latte (oopsie! don't spill!) and then when you return the book to the shelf, tuck in a copy of Dan's review.... And return it to the shelf labeled, "Eastern Aborginal Snail Mating Habits in the 15th Century." Five years down the road, go back and give it a good dusting...

I just cannot bring myself to buy the book. I would like to know and study the thing. I get a sick feeling in my stomach if I knew I was giving the man even one more dime. I know that at this point by stirring the waters he is only helping the cause... I still say boycott the book! (ok Dan (or anyone) once you are done shredding it I would like to borrow a copy:))
As we have said before at AOA, little variations on the truth allowed to pass as the truth will be assumed as the truth...Quoted... taken as the truth in the future. Please continue to look for the little differences. Thank you.

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