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Marie McCormick’s IOM Remarks Leave A Bitter Taste

McCormick_bitters_A_Gamondes By Jake Crosby

Why does Marie McCormick – former chair of the panel that produced the botched IOM report claiming vaccines do not cause autism – currently serve as co-chair of the “Vaccine Safety Working Group” of the National Vaccine Advisory Council? Her past remarks should disqualify her from serving on any committees concerned with vaccine regulation as illustrated by the following examples retrieved from the leaked transcripts of the January 12, 2001 closed session of the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine at the National Academies Building in Washington DC.

Here is a comment she made in 2001, justifying a preconceived conclusion about autism and vaccines:

“What I am trying to get at is, do we want to simply, on our gut, say looking at the significance of the wild disease that you are protecting, and the seriousness and potential association with the vaccine -- because we are not ever going to come down that it [autism] is a true side effect -- is that going to be sufficient for you to judge public health impact?” (p. 97)

Here is another leaked comment of McCormick’s from the same meeting about minimizing the public backlash while giving the IOM Report’s CDC sponsors what they want:

“It is safety on a population basis but it is also safety for the individual child. I am wondering, if we take this dual perspective, we may address more of the parental concerns, perhaps developing a better message if we think what comes down the stream as opposed to CDC, which wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis. I offer that as one strategy as we take this dual track.(p. 33)

Those are unedited quotes of Dr. Marie McCormick from meetings of the Immunization Safety Review Committee on vaccines and autism - the committee that would eventually come to a formal “rejection of causation” in 2004, which effectively quashed federal funding of vaccine-related autism research. McCormick chaired that committee.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a conspiracy as “combin[ing] secretly for a… reprehensible purpose.” The drug industry loves to accuse others of invoking the C-word but this behavior of Dr. Marie McCormick and others – behind closed doors of the private, chartered IOM no less – is a conspiracy in the plainest sense of the word.

Needless to say, she should not sit on the National Vaccine Advisory Council. Even though her comments were made a decade ago, she continues to operate under the same principles as evidenced by her inaction on NVAC.

On June 14th, I decided to call up a session of NVAC and listen in to the public discussion among committee members. I was disturbed at what I heard:

One NVAC member said there should not be an independent vaccine safety committee because it would detract from what NVAC does! Another NVAC member said people who should be responsible for vaccine safety are “people like us – people who conduct clinical trials of vaccines” - for drug companies in other words. A third member said NVAC is like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – overall considered successful at preventing plane crashes because someone on NTSB probably worked for Boeing within the last five years. He provided no example of this because he couldn't; none of the NTSB board members worked for Boeing within the last five years.

The most telling comment, however, came from a member who denied the public’s skepticism about the vaccine program – saying that the 5% of people who do not get vaccinated are “misinformed.” And these committee members – Marie McCormick among them – are left to decide if an independent government body focused solely on vaccine safety should exist.

Eventually, the floor was opened up to public comment – starkly different from the NVAC discussion. Pro bono lawyer Jim Moody, present at the meeting, was the first to give comments. He corrected the previous claim noting that while 95% of the population gets some vaccines, over 90% have at least some serious concerns about vaccine safety. He also cited the PACE law study that found a large group of children who developed autism resulting from adverse vaccine reactions were compensated by government and the utter lack of a vaccinated versus unvaccinated study of autism.

Next came Emily Tarsell with a phone comment; her daughter was killed by Gardasil. She said she could not understand why an independent vaccine safety committee wasn’t needed in light of all the issues with vaccine safety oversight.

None of the NVAC members commented on points made by Moody or Tarsell.

Then came my turn to give comment. Given the time constraints of the phone call, I gave edited versions of Dr. McCormick’s incriminating quotes from 10 years ago:

“CDC…wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis.”

(p. 33)

“…we are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side effect [of vaccines]”

(p. 97)

I inquired how Marie McCormick could possibly be expected to serve on the committee in good faith given her past statements. As it turned out, members of the public cannot even ask questions – only make comments.

Immediately after I finished what I was saying, a committee member tersely stated “No questions!”

The phone operator reiterated the rule, “Sir, no questions!” (I suppose because questions would require answers.)

I then overheard the NVAC committee members’ reactions to my question:

“We’ll put that down as ‘empirical.’”

“I think you mean ‘rhetorical.’”

“Could also be empirical.”


Then they all broke into laughter – making a joke out of my comment and not addressing it. At that point, the committee took a break 15 minutes earlier than scheduled and did not open the session back up to public comment an hour later as was planned.

I wonder if Seth Mnookin took down the meeting minutes, because the NVAC June 2011 Certified Meeting Minutes  blatantly misrepresented what I said (p.9):

Jake Crosby commented that NVAC members lack independence or objectivity and said an NVAC member had stated that NVAC will never determine that autism is caused by a vaccine, and he questioned how such a member could be considered objective.

In reality, the only member I expressed concern about in my call was Marie McCormick, who was not even mentioned in the minutes. I did not claim she said NVAC will never determine autism is caused by vaccines either. I said, as corroborated by leaked IOM meeting minutes, that she made the statement, “We will never come down that it [autism] is a true side effect [of vaccines],” as IOM committee chairwoman in 2001 before any evidence was submitted to her panel for review.

Furthermore, by claiming I said McCormick said this about NVAC, but not about the IOM, the minutes covered up the fact that she came to a preconceived conclusion about causality. There was also no mention in the minutes of CDC involvement.

After the break, the NVAC members discussed recommendations to increase flu vaccine production for flu season. The flu shots are still laced with the mercury preservative, thimerosal. And these are the same folks charged with the task of deciding whether or not to create a new committee solely focused on vaccine safety?

Even if the 2000 Simpsonwood meeting transcripts, the email correspondences among some of its participants and the earlier Verstraeten data showing associations between mercury in vaccines and neurological disorders including autism were never retrieved in FOIA requests, those two quotes by Dr. McCormick are quite frankly enough to implicate CDC and IOM in coming to preconceived conclusions. No evidence was submitted to the IOM Committee in January 2001 when those quotes were made. Similarly, the CDC’s pressuring of the IOM to come to a set of desired conclusions completely contradicted the IOM’s stated purpose, which is to independently review scientific data wholly separate from any government agencies or pharmaceutical companies.

The IOM committee which McCormick chaired was rife with pharmaceutical interests, as revealed in the meeting notes. Next to the name Richard Johnston - Board of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Liaison who months earlier announced at Simpsonwood that he did not want his grandson exposed to thimerosal – are the words “SmithKline Beecham.” Next to panelist Vernice Anthony are the words “$5000 Merck” and next to fellow panelist Gerald Medoff are the words “pharma company.” Another panelist, Christopher Wilson, is listed next to “American Home Products,” which would later change its name to Wyeth and be purchased by Pfizer. And panelist Ronald Bayer coauthored a book published prior to the 2004 IOM Report, funded in part by a Merck Foundation Fellowship.

NVAC is no freer of conflict. In addition to Marie McCormick, there is Walter Orenstein, former director of the CDC’s National Immunization Program, which commissioned the IOM to come to its “independent” conclusions. Other unsuitable members include former CDC director James Mason – a trustee of “Evergreen International” – a group dedicated to curing homosexuality. Amy Pisani, another member on NVAC, is executive director of the Wyeth front group, Every Child By Two. Finally, Bruce Gellin – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and also Director of the National Vaccine Program Office – coauthored an article with millionaire vaccine industrialist Paul Offit claiming an infant can take up to 10,000 vaccines at once.

And yet, the mainstream press still supports these people and quotes them extensively, except when they draw preconceived conclusions behind closed doors. A prime example is The New York Times, which ran a 2005 article by ethically bankrupt reporter  Gardiner Harris, who wrote:

"’It's really terrifying, the scientific illiteracy that supports these suspicions [that vaccines cause autism],’ said Dr. Marie McCormick, chairwoman of an Institute of Medicine panel that examined the controversy in February 2004.”

What is truly terrifying is Marie McCormick coming to conclusions before any data was submitted to her IOM committee for review. Her presence on NVAC as co-chair of the Vaccine Safety Working Group is a recipe for disaster.

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. In August, he will attend The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services where he will study for an MPH in epidemiology.



We need pictures of autistic kids at the next NVAC committee meeting with a big sign:
We are the McCormick babies.

victor pavlovic

Great work Jake, you are exposing them to the core, you are exposing for what they are.

Jake Crosby

Haha, "McCormick Babies" - BRILLIANT Cherry!

Cherry Sperlin Misra

Friends, If you would just come to India, we could go out on the town, and before long you would see what I think I shall now call a "Marie McCormick Baby" Here is a typical example: I was standing in a bakery in a part of Delhi where the government employees live. Im always watchful when I go there, for a government employee has the great good fortune to get free vaccines for his child at a CGHS clinic and the manufacturer of those vaccines has a great name: Serum Institute of India !! and a DPT or Hep B vaccine from them has the full dose of 25 mcg ethylmercury.
The doting father standing next to me clearly has a McCormick baby. The child is about one and a half, but very small. His hair is unusually thin and his nose is running. The days of little toddling boys who want to run about is gone: todays little boy is lifeless and wants to be held most of the time.. So , I race off to my car and head back to find the father and son. Fortunately they are still there. I hand the father an envelope of papers about mercury in vaccines. He does not mind and is interested to talk to me. I explain about mercury in vaccines, tell him to ask for imported vaccines and I say, "Your son is sick all the time, isnt he" He nods yes. That's the McCormick Thimerosal, destroying his immune system with each vaccine. I say to the father, "You must have got his vaccines from the CGHS" He replies, "Yes, I work at the CGHS" I say, "Then you REALLY need to read these papers"
It must be fun for you , Marie, lots of fun working with the public health folks who think just the same way you do and no one will ever make YOU look at the McCormick babies . I wonder, if ever, in your whole lifetime it will occur to you that things could have been different for the McCormick babies all over the world, if the IOM had stayed with the ethics, the morality, the truth and the science of vaccines with mercury

Not an MD

Thank you, Jake. : )

On another note: Please run for office (Congress?) one day! We need someone young, and ethical, and intelligent in office making sound legal policy for our nation. Someone like you. Actually, we need a whole lot of "yous."


This is what passes for science these days. Pathetic, and dangerous. Where do they get these trolls? "Is that going to be sufficient for you?"---wow. I am really disgusted.


Great article Jake,

We need to print current photos of all the Vaccine Taliban members.

Jake Crosby

Not an MD,

I'm glad you're okay.

Not an MD

Well, Jake, to be honest, if I had not read that article from Gardiner, I likely would never had known about Ketek. My doctor certainly didn't clue me in to its risks. In fact, I actually filled the prescription, and went home to my computer to research Ketek's side effects as the name of the drug seemed to ring a bell, and I couldn't remember exactly why. Then, I brought up the NYT article, read it for the second time, called my doctor to ask him to prescribe another older antibiotic with a better safety profile, and he was not happy at all to do it. I then returned the unopened bottle to the pharmacy, got the new Rx, and killed my sinus infection quite effectively.

I am just glad, even if he is ethically bankrupt, that he wrote that article. Even after the fact. I probably wouldn't have questioned that drug otherwise. And by the way, why wasn't my doctor aware of the serious risks of taking Ketek? That's just nuts. Sometimes, even old news is important news to some who were previously unaware (like me)-- especially when the news was not adequately printed or spoken in many media outlets in a timely fashion to warn the public. Or, perhaps it was, and I just missed the other coverage outright.

I do appreciate your comment that Gardiner could have reported the truth sooner. I am sure it would have helped/saved more people, and that is both sad and sickening. I am grateful, however, that I was spared. With two affected children, I sure didn't need to be placed on a liver transplant list.


Great piece, Jake! Some more about Walter Orenstein, who oversaw CDC's NIP during the "simpsonwood" years...his connections with ECBT etc....

"It is with mixed emotions that we congratulate ECBT Ex-Officio Board Member Dr. Walter Orenstein on his pending retirement from the CDC’s National Immunization Program. Dr. Orenstein will “retire” from CDC on March 1, 2004, at which time he will be taking a position with the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University working on vaccine policy issues and clinical vaccine development efforts."


someone draw up a letter we can send to out her!!!!!!

Dan E. Burns - SavingBenBook.com

Jake, I'm glad that you and Jim Moody are holding the NVAC's feet to the fire. You are chipping away at the pharmaceutical edifice and setting a good example.

Everybody, the Public Comment segment is the Achilles’ heel our not-so-super DC committees. Jake and Jim are sometimes lonely voices there. As Jim has said, we need more bright, articulate, persistent and I would add fearless chippers in Washington. Thanks for standing up for us, Jake and Jim.

Jake Crosby

Not an MD,

Gardiner Harris has pharma ties, and he did in fact violate the "Ethics in Journalism" policy of The New York Times for his failure to disclose them. He is ethically bankrupt.

The fact of the matter is that with Ketek, the FDA had already put out a Public Health Advisory about safety issues regarding the drug months before Gardiner Harris' first article about it:

My question is: where was Gardiner Harris when this advisory first came out?

Angus Files

The saying goes

"If you have no critics you'll likely have no success."

Soon to come home to roost for Mc Cormick

Maurine Meleck

Apologies to McCormicks for her face there. Tis the season
to bury McCormick in her pot of lies and let her stew. I cannot believe she is still around. Thanks, Jake. This is so good and so frightening. On ward-Canary Party. We have got to move.


Bullying, lying, laughing and insulting is all they know. Reading this brought back memories of my last IEP where the principal actually tried to convince me that less hours of speech therapy was actuallty MORE hours. They all laughed at me when I tried to protest that less hours meant less hours. Mercury is safe, less is more it's all 1984 to me.

Jim Thompson


Thank you.

Re:"how Marie McCormick could possibly be expected to serve on the committee in good faith given her past statements[?]"

Ask the question in a formal letter.

The IOM budget comes from the National Research Council. And the NRC budget comes from various sources per the following statement:

"The NAS, NAE, IOM, and Research Council do not receive direct appropriations from the federal government, although many of our activities are mandated and funded by Congress and federal agencies. Our work extends well beyond fulfilling federal government requests, however. Foundations, state governments, THE PRIVATE SECTOR, and philanthropy from individuals enable us to address critical issues on behalf of the nation."

See http://www.nationalacademies.org/about/whoweare.html



The letter could go to your congressional representatives with a cc to Ralph Cicerone and Charles Vest.


Oh and I am so glad that they have not lost their sense of humor on all this.
My entire family and my sister-in-law with three boys affected don't much these days that are funny.

As a matter of fact the older these kids get, the less funny anything is.

Katie Wright

Poor Marie, she reminds me of the Church Lady.
And just as sanctimonious.


If the vaccines effects everybody with autism it would be unsafe enough for her committee to address it?
Or perhaps just 90 percent of the population?
- well what percentage of the population is she willing to sacrifice -- before perhaps they even address the question?

There is no reasoning with such cold minds. She was the cause of no research into vaccines, the immune system, and autism?

Not an MD

Well, Jake, thanks for another amazing article.

While I am not a fan of Gardiner Harris (to put it mildly) regarding his myopic and rigid views on vaccines, I have to say that he quite possibly saved my life. Because of an article that Gardiner Harris wrote on the dangers of Ketek, and because that article stayed in my head when my doctor prescribed Ketek for my raging sinus infection, I refused to take that drug and opted for an older generation antibiotic. For all I know, I might have needed a liver transplant after taking only one Ketek pill.

I cannot consider Gardiner ethically bankrupt, just misinformed and brainwashed (like many of us here used to be). Gardiner cannot grasp that the corruption and ethical bankruptcy of the pharmaceutical industry extends to all product lines, not just drugs, or medical devices. Vaccines are not made with any greater level of care than any other drug. I just read that Merck's vaccines are tainted with shrink wrap, and neither the FDA, nor Merck cares enough to do anything about the contamination. No product's liability, no safety for the consumer-- even if the product is mandated for use. What more proof does Gardiner need?

John Stone

Brilliant work as ever Jake - what a bunch!


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