By Nancy Hokkanen
The January 13 NEJM column, “The Age-Old Struggle against the Antivaccinationists” by Gregory A. Poland, M.D. and Robert M. Jacobson, M.D., absolves vaccine developers from responsibility for product safety. Both authors receive funding from vaccine manufacturers. (HERE)
The vast majority of parents of children with autism have had their children vaccinated, but noted side effects. Parent observations have been ignored and the newest label of “antivaccinationists” adds to mistrust of the intent of vaccine scientists and federal government’s oversight. The transference defensively employed by Poland and Jacobson may reflect personal views, but has a distinct slant toward policies that would protect vaccine developers and diminish accountability for product adverse reactions or side effects.
The NEJM article is a disappointment to all consumers who continue to hope that researchers will transcend hostile rhetoric and investigate reports of vaccine reactions without causing fear or intimidation to families. Poland’s previous paper on Vaccinomics and Adversomics left us hopeful it could happen. But the current NEJM paper is distinctly different. The Antivaccinationists paper patronizes readers and re-victimizes families who reported side effects following vaccinations, observing and recording abrupt changes that have persisted, which create significant daily challenges.
Amongst the signatures on the British Medical Journal editorial accompanying Brian Deer’s latest ambush of Andrew Wakefield the name of Harvey Marcovitch has gone almost unremarked (HERE). While Marcovitch is indeed an associate editor of BMJ it should not go unnoticed that he is also Chair of the GMC Fitness Practice Panels. Whilst this is disclosed amongst his competing interests in the article he notes in exculpation:
“HM chairs GMC fitness to practise panels. He had no association with the Wakefield hearings and the views expressed in this article are his own and do not represent those of the GMC.”
But it is almost impossible to see how the second statement could be true even if his sole contribution to the hearing was not to intervene. As we know, the chairman of panel at the hearing, Surendra Kumar, was appointed in spite of the fact that he had shares in GSK and sat on two medicine licensing authority committees (HERE), and further blotted his copybook after the hearing by leading a debate at the British Medical Association calling for MMR vaccination to be made compulsory in the UK (HERE). What makes Marcovitch’s signature here utterly remarkable is that he is not apparently in the habit of signing BMJ editorials: a search of the journal’s index reveals he has signed only four since BMJ went online 17 years ago, and all of the previous ones were solo efforts. Whatever it was that induced him to accept collective responsibility for this editorial while appeals in the case are still pending, it seems curiously insensitive and a potential contempt of court.