Recently, Dr. David Tayloe, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, gave false statements about Dr. Paul Offit’s involvement in both the approval and the removal of the first Rotavirus vaccine, RotaShield. The vaccine was taken off the market more than a decade ago because it caused intussusception – a severe gastrointestinal condition that killed eight children. Last year, Paul Offit denied his involvement in RotaShield’s approval, claiming he did not vote to add it to the CDC’s childhood vaccination schedule, when he in fact voted for it three times.
These are hardly the first false statements to have come from Tayloe and Offit, however. Paul Offit previously said that an infant can conservatively take up to 10,000 vaccines at once and David Tayloe claimed on the Today Show that “credible studies don’t show any relationship between vaccines and permanent injury.”
Tayloe’s latest false statement followed my question to “Pox” author Michael Willrich, who was speaking at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. I asked him if he was aware that Paul Offit was involved in the approval of RotaShield – the vaccine that caused intussusception in Willrich’s own infant son. Professor Willrich did not answer my question, but said he would talk to me afterwards. Now I know why.
Willrich’s talk was being taped by Book TV for CSPAN-2. He then answered my question privately.
In my article about the talk – The Original Paul Offit – I described a white-haired man who stood up right after me and flat-out denied what I said (46:28):
“To be perfectly clear, when the data came forward on the RotaShield incidents of intussusception Dr. Offit was among the first to say with the ACFE (sic) – the council – ‘this must be withdrawn,’ and that was not in his interest in the way it’s been portrayed here.” [gesturing towards me]
Although I had suspected it at the time, watching the C-SPAN2 video now has confirmed that the white-haired man who did not introduce himself at the lecture was indeed Dr. David Tayloe Jr., former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics whose father was successfully sued over a DTP vaccine injury sustained by one of his patients in the 1980s. The $3.5 million lawsuit was settled for $1.1 million, costing Dr. David Tayloe Sr. $400,000, which was not covered by his insurance.
Despite Tayloe Jr.’s claim that voting RotaShield onto the schedule was not in Paul Offit’s interest, it was in fact very much in his interest because its approval opened up the market to future Rotavirus vaccines, including Offit’s. Secondly, Tayloe argued that Offit was “among the first” to say the vaccine should be withdrawn. That statement was also false – Offit merely said intussusception should be included on the label as a side effect – hardly a call for the vaccine’s withdrawal. Furthermore, Offit only voted to add the vaccine onto the schedule, never to remove it.
According to a blogger and proponent of “neurodiversity”, Paul Offit wrote her the following claim in an email exchange (boldface mine):
Although I was brought onto the ACIP [Advisory Council on Immunization Practices] because of my expertise in rotaviruses and intestinal immunology, I didn’t first vote until October 1998. So I didn’t get to vote RotaShield onto the infant vaccine schedule. [He only missed the first vote, but voted the three subsequent times] However, I did vote to approve RotaShield for the VFC [Vaccines For Children] program, which in those days could follow the vote to put a vaccine onto the schedule by several months. I was allowed to vote because I was not involved with a competing vaccine (our vaccine was still years away). Ironically, when I voted to approve RotaShield for the VFC program, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could declare a conflict of interest because the product would only compete with the vaccine we were working on. But I guess I was dammed if I did and dammed if I didn’t.
In three out of four votes, including all three votes while Offit was on the ACIP, he voted in favor of the council’s position on vaccinating against Rotavirus with RotaShield. Then, as a result of ACIP’s advice, the CDC published the renewed vaccination schedule, which included RotaShield among its recommendations.
Therefore, Paul Offit voted RotaShield onto the infant vaccine schedule – three times – and, like Tayloe, denied it later. I wonder how they will rewrite history 10 years from now - perhaps claim that Paul Offit was the first to point out the pig virus in his own vaccine and say it should be withdrawn.
Jake Crosby has Asperger Syndrome and is a contributing editor to Age of Autism. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy. He currently attends The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he is studying for an MPH in epidemiology.