1:00PM EST - UPDATE: Dr. Tayloe, who is visiting the Middle East on AAP business, has written to David to thank him for the note and to let him know that the Academy will issue a formal reply soon. Stay tuned here for further developments.
Managing Editor's Note: David Kirby sent this letter to Dr. David Tayloe, new president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
November 22, 2008
David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP
President, American Academy of Pediatrics
Dear Dr Tayloe,
It has been seven months since I had the pleasure of meeting you in Los Angeles at the “Larry King Live" studio. Allow me to congratulate you on your inauguration as President of the Academy.
I am writing because I have just received a copy of a letter from Elie Ward (HERE) Co-Chair of the NYS Immunization Coalition, a project of the AAP. The letter was sent to Rep. Carolyn Maloney in regards to the Congressional briefing on vaccines and autism that she sponsored on Capitol Hill in September.
In the letter, Ms. Ward accuses me of presenting “misinformation” as well as “unscientific, irrational proposals” to staff members of more than 90 House and Senate offices, as well as two US Representatives who were in the room.
The letter also accuses “a few people, some of whom are making a great deal of money from the suffering and false hope of frightened parents,” of continuing to “beat the drum for this discredited position.”
I take these remarks by a representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics very seriously. I also wonder why the Academy would not direct these allegations to me personally, but instead chose to send them to a member of Congress, who does not, and can not answer for me.
As for the allegations made by this AAP-affiliated individual, I respectfully ask the Academy to provide specific instances of “misinformation” attributed to me during the Capitol Hill briefing of September 23, 2008.
If, by her remark, Ms. Ward was referring to my discussion of a National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences’ panel report on the VSD database, then I would refer her, and you, to the following letter that I sent to Dr. Stephen Cha, a health advisor to Rep. Henry Waxman, on the subject (HERE).
I also respectfully ask that the AAP please provide me with specific instances of “nonscientific” or “irrational proposals” that I put forth at the briefing, so that I may respond accordingly. Specifically, which slides among those that I presented would meet these criteria? (The slides are available at Evidence of Harm.)
If you cannot do so, I will take this to mean that you concur with me, and that I did not in fact present any “nonscientific” or “irrational” proposals during the Congressional briefing.
I have also asked Ms. Ward if she, and by extension the AAP, considers me to be one of those people who are “making a great deal of money” from the vaccine-autism debate.
In the interest of public disclosure, I can categorically state that I have earned approximately $140,000 from my autism-related activities. This includes the advance and royalties from my book, “Evidence of Harm,” all speaking fees, a movie option and various freelance writing assignments. This income has been spread out over a six-year period (2003-2008, inclusive), for an average of about $23,300 per year. That amount covered my rent in New York City, but not much else.
I disclose this information publically as a way of encouraging Dr. Paul Offit, who is mentioned several times in Ms. Ward’s letter, of doing the same in terms of his projected income for his role in developing a U.S.-approved rotavirus vaccine.
Dr. Offit told Newsweek Magazine (HERE) that he earned a “small percentage” of the estimated $182 million in royalties expected from the product.
In the public interest, I hope that the AAP would urge Dr. Offit to disclose this amount, as I feel it is pertinent to the discussion at hand (and it is another reason why I chose to disclose my own earnings related to autism). How much of a “small percentage” was his share? Was it 0.5% ($910,000) or was it closer to, say, 3% ($5.46 million)?
Dr. Offit said it was, "like winning the lottery."
I certainly do not begrudge Dr. Offit making a profit from his work at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and I am sure that his royalty payments represent many years of hard work on behalf of the vaccine manufacturer. But it does not appear to be an insignificant amount and, therefore, it seems to me, is as worthy of scrutiny by the American Academy of Pediatrics as is my income from autism work.
Finally, I would also like to ask if you agree that my position, (that the debate over vaccines and autism is not over) has been “discredited,” especially when so many leading authorities and organizations do seem to believe that more research in this regard is likely warranted (Please see list below).
To that end, I hope you will encourage Ms. Ward, or any member of the Immunization Coalition, or anyone else affiliated with the AAP, to agree to discuss these issues and allegations with me, in person, before a live audience, in a reasoned and controlled debate format.
I am available at any time for such a discussion, not unlike the event I will have in March in NYC, when Dr. Marc Siegel, of NYU Medical Center, and I will talk about the vaccine-autism controversy at a major educational conference sponsored by WNET-Channel 13 (PBS) in New York. (Please see HERE.)
Again, in the interest of public disclosure, this letter will be shared on the Age of Autism blog. Many thanks for your attention to this matter.
During 2008, all of the following groups and individuals have advocated or considered exploring possible links between vaccines and autism:
1) Both Presidential Candidates
2) Director of the CDC
3) Former head of the NIH and American Red Cross
4) Chair of the U.S. House Science Subcommittee on Investigations
5) Dr. Jon Poling, Pediatric Neurologist
6) HHS Vaccine Safety Working Group
7) CDC Vaccine Safety Research Agenda
8) Medical personnel at HHS Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
9) Members of the Strategic Planning Workgroup of the IAC Committee
10) Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network - CISA
11) Autism researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School
12) America's health insurance companies
13) Autism Speaks
14) The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation