Managing Editor's Note: That's a photo of the board of Every Child By Two, you can click HERE to see a larger photo and a list of the members and their affiliations. (10/14/08, ECBT asked us to remove the photo as it is copyrighted. We replaced it with a similar photo.)
By J.B. Handley
17 years ago, in 1991, the DTP Vaccine was under fire for the high rate of autism, brain injury and death it was causing in children. Lawsuits were mounting. In fact, DTP was why Congress created the 1986 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the first place. As Barbara Loe Fisher, co-author of A Shot In the Dark, a book chronicling the problems with DPT, said, "it is important to note that the vast majority of vaccine injury awards in the VICP have been for children suffering DPT vaccine brain injuries and deaths…of all the vaccines which have been routinely used by children in the past century, the brain damaging effects of the pertussis (whooping cough) portion of DPT vaccine is among the most well documented in the scientific literature."
On the firing line was Lederle Laboratories of Wayne, NJ, one of the largest manufacturers of DTP vaccine at the time. A spokesperson for Lederle was charged with working the press to try and defend DTP, mercury, and vaccines in general--he was the Paul Offit of his time. This spokesperson, in January 1991, was quoted in the New York Times saying, "Any chemical product, because it is a chemical substance, does produce some side effects. The current vaccine [DTP], as far as we are concerned, is a very safe and efficacious vaccine."
As we all know, the DTP vaccine was soon replaced with DTaP because of safety concerns.
So what, you say?
Well, there's more to the story. In 1994, Wyeth bought Lederle Laboratories and the Lederle spokesperson--the Paul Offit of his time—went with Lederle to the new owner, Wyeth.
This spokesperson, Craig Engesser, he still works for Wyeth, his job title today is Senior Director, Professional Affairs.
And, he sits on the Board of Every Child By Two.
When I watched CBS rip apart the conflicts (HERE) that vaccine promoters and vaccine makers have, I was left with a nagging question: who the hell is Every Child By Two? Yes, I knew Amanda Peet was their new spokesperson. I knew Paul Offit had recently joined their board. But, who the hell were they?
Doing some research, it turns out these "Special Interest Dot-Orgs"—SIDs for short—are nothing new. Unfortunately, the 501(c)3 code of the IRS is very vague on what constitutes a non-profit organization and there are very few disclosure requirements for funding sources any public filings nonprofits have to make. As an example, if you wanted to find out where Generation Rescue gets its funding, you wouldn't be able to. No filing requirements exist.
As you might expect, drug companies have taken full advantage of this murky area. To my surprise, the press has been covering this story for years, just not specific to vaccines. In a 2005 expose titled, "A little too cozy? Not-for-profits may have undisclosed funding ties to for-profit drug companies", Sacramento Bee reporters Dorsey Griffith and Steve Wiegand went after the practice:
"The public may be getting hoodwinked because they may think these nonprofits are independent," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a watchdog group that provides information about nonprofits. "But how can they do it independently if they are paid by the drug companies?"
Borochoff and other critics say that even the best-intentioned advocacy groups can ignite public fears about conditions that may not be medical problems, divert attention from more serious health issues and put pressure on doctors to prescribe medications that may not be necessary.
While some of these advocacy organizations begin as true grass-roots associations that later come to rely on financing from the pharmaceutical industry, others sprout directly from drug company seed money. And some are hybrids.
A Boston Globe investigation in 2007 revealed similar concerns:
But little attention has been paid to smaller nonprofits, especially patient groups that are largely funded by the drug industry. Public Citizen's Peter Lurie, who testifies frequently before FDA panels, noticed a shift as public hearings "were becoming contaminated by people who didn't represent the public in any way. They represented particular moneyed interests." Lurie, deputy director of the consumer advocacy organization's health research group, said, "It's a fair question: Who represents patients and how they come to call themselves" patient representatives?
In 221 advisory committee meetings scrutinized, 32 of 44 speakers representing patients said they had received funding from a company that would be affected by the FDA's decision, according to a recent journal article that Lurie coauthored about conflicts of interest on FDA advisory panels.
And, The Philadelphia Inquirer also posted an investigative piece on the practice saying, "Although patients seldom know it, many patient groups and drug companies maintain close, multimillion-dollar relationships while disclosing limited or no details about the ties." The Inquirer also explained that the money to support these nonprofits often comes "from the companies' marketing or sales divisions, not charity offices, company and nonprofit officials said."
Wow. Of course, none of us are surprised. Back to Every Child By Two.
In the CBS Evening News piece on the APP, Paul Offit, and Every Child By Two, CBS was unable to provide any details on ECBT's ties to vaccine manufacturers beyond a confirmation from the organization that they did take money from vaccine companies. But, it's right there in black & white, it just takes a little digging.
First, a little background. By nonprofit standards, ECBT is a rat-shit organization. With a grand total of 3 employees, a tiny office suite in a crummy Washington D.C. neighborhood, and an annual budget under $1 million, they are a blip on the radar screen. As usual, the devil is in the details.
Let's look first at their total revenues for the last 3 years (we only have numbers through 2006. Numbers for 2007 will probably be public in October):
Every Child By Two, Total Revenues:
2006: $752, 631
Within ECBT's revenues is a long-term contract they have had with Public Health Solutions, another SIDs which is a front for the NY Department of Health. This is effectively a long-term government contract that ECBT has had for years. Focusing on 2006 and removing this piece of their revenues, ECBT looks like this:
Every Child By Two, Total Revenues, excluding PHS:
So, the question is, where did the half million bucks come from? If you looked at their 2004 Form 990, you would never know. If you looked at their 2005 Form 990, you would never know, either. But, in 2006 something changed. Either a new accounting firm, a new accountant, a request from the IRS, I don't know. I just know the form is longer and has more disclosure. On Page 23, in black & white, it reads:
"Wyeth Vaccine: Ensure all children from birth to Age 2 are fully immunized."
And, how much did Wyeth give ECBT?
Wyeth gave $350,769. That's 68% of their non-contract revenue and 48% of their total revenue. From one company. A vaccine manufacturer named Wyeth. And Craig Engesser, a Wyeth spokesperson, has been on the board of ECBT for as long as I can track it. He even served as the organization's treasurer!
Every Child By Two. Amanda Peet. Paul Offit. Craig Engesser. Wyeth. Lederle. DTP. Rat-shit.
J.B. Handley is co-founder of Generation Rescue and Managing Editor of Age of Autism.