By Dan Olmsted
If you want to know why those concerned about autism deserve an alternative to the mainstream media, look no further than the announcement today that the CEO of Reuters Group PLC, Thomas Glocer, has joined the board of Merck. Many of us who believe autism is an environmental illness -- and vaccines likely play an unacknowledged role -- have long commented on the seeming sheepishness of Big Media. When you look at the amount of pharma advertising propping up the newsweeklies and the evening news, and notice how credulous their coverage of this issue is, it's hard not to suspect the worst.
Now we KNOW the worst. Reuters is best known as a financial news service, but it covers a wide range of topics, including health. According to the company, Reuters is "the largest provider of medical and healthcare news in the world." Merck, of course, is one of the largest providers of prescription drugs in the world -- some of them quite controversial. A settlement over Vioxx recently cost the company several billion dollars.
And Merck is right in the middle of the vaccine-autism controversy. Posted on our site right now is an account of the vaccine court trial over whether the MMR vaccine (made by Merck) causes autism. Merck also makes Varivax, the chickenpox shot, for lack of which several hundred parents and their kids were summoned to court in Maryland this month and threatened with jail. Yet a realistic look at the shot suggests it's not needed and probably counterproductive, likely triggering an epidemic of shingles (for which Merck makes the newly approved vaccine.)
And so on. I am sure that the Reuters CEO plays no role in decisions about health coverage, yada yada. That's hardly necesssary, not when you know your boss is also a board member of a controversial pharmaceutical company. Don't board members have a legal responsibility to look out for a company's stockholders and do everything within the law to maximize shareholder value? What about information that comes into the Reuter's CEO's hands by virtue of his service to Merck? For instance, the board members must have known in advance of the Vioxx settlement. Presumably, the Reuters CEO would have to sit on his hands and wait for Merck to issue its press release.
I'm going to stop here because this development is really beyond comment. Obviously, the CEO should reconsider this ill-advised decision and decline the board membership. And our readers should be reminded that the reason Age of Autism exists is to offset in a small way this kind of cozy but ultimately catastrophic relationship between Big Pharma and Big Media.