I’m constantly amazed when the media covers autism. They happily give health officials and mainstream medicine the last word and show no real interest in a disorder that has can strike any child—even one who was born healthy and is thriving as a toddler. Most of all, there’s never any suspicion about all the denials. No one notes that self-protection is a huge factor in the controversy swirling around vaccines and autism. The press doesn’t ever consider that many people’s jobs and reputations are at stake here. December 5, 2012, Salon.com published the story, Obamacare architect heads to Big Pharma--Liz Fowler again exemplifies the blurred lines between the healthcare industry and Washington, by Natasha Lennard.
This was a strong critique of revolving door between government and industry.
Liz Fowler, well known as the architect of President Obama’sAffordable Care Act, never really left the healthcare industry.
Before and after working as chief health policy counsel for Sen. Max Baucus (the position from which she drafted Obamacare), Fowler worked for the nation’s largest health insurance provider Well Point. She was then appointed by Obama to oversee the implementation of her Obamacare legislation and now, as Glenn Greenwald flagged Wednesday, will be taking up a senior position with Johnson & Johnson.
As Greenwald noted:
The pharmaceutical giant that just hired Fowler actively supported the passage of Obamacare through its membership in the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby. Indeed, PhRMA was one of the most aggressive supporters – and most lavish beneficiaries – of the health care bill drafted by Fowler. Mother Jones’ James Ridgeway proclaimed“Big Pharma” the “big winner” in the health care bill. And now, Fowler will receive ample rewards from that same industry as she peddles her influence in government and exploits her experience with its inner workings to work on that industry’s behalf, all of which has been made perfectly legal by the same insular, Versailles-like Washington culture that so lavishly benefits from all of this.
Notice the references to “Big Pharma” and to how government employees can personally benefit when the drug industry profits from their actions. We don’t see a lot of reporting like this. I also found a Salon.com from Jan, 2012 that brought up former CDC head Julie Gerberding’s move to Merck where she’s head of the vaccine division.
Of course, the revolving door between government/Big Pharma lobbying has a distinguished tradition from Louisiana representative-turned-lobbyist, Billy Tauzin, who presided over the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) until 2010, to former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, who presided over the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak and turned up as — anybody? — head of Merck vaccines when she left the government.
This was in a story that exposed how the FDA fails to really regulate the meat industry, The rise of Big Meat-bred super bugs--Despite the public health risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the lobbyist-swayed FDA keeps easing regulations.
“And last month, the FDA scrapped its three-decade-long effort to regulate the use of the popular human antibiotics penicillin and tetracycline in livestock. While the FDA says in the announcement that it “remains concerned about the issue of antimicrobial resistance,” it also says “contested, formal withdrawal proceedings” consume too much of its time and money. For example, withdrawing nitrofurans from livestock use took 20 years, DES (diethylstilbestrol) took seven years and enrofloxacin took five years and cost $3.3 million, says the agency. Hey, we’re just the government that makes the laws and enforces them. They’re Big Meat!”
On their site, Salon.com describes itself as being “a leader in online media since the dawn of the digital age.” We remember Salon for their publication of Robert Kennedy Jr’s Deadly Immunity in 2005. This was the story about how an unregulated vaccine schedule is damaging children. Kennedy wrote about the unpublicized meeting of pharmaceutical reps and government officials at the secluded Methodist retreat center in Norcross GA called Simpsonwood. There they discussed the rise in neurological disorders in children that coincided with the steady increase in mercury-containing vaccines in the childhood schedule. Kennedy went on to explain how toxic mercury came to be in vaccines and how experts and officials continue to defend its use.
This was impressive coverage, something never seen from news outlets the New York Times or CNN and it was extremely controversial. Then last Jan Salon.com pulled the story and explained their actions in a piece called, Correcting our record-- We've removed an explosive 2005 report by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about autism and vaccines. Here's why, by Kerry Lauerman, Salon’s editor in chief.
The piece was co-published with Rolling Stone magazine — they fact-checked it and published it in print; we posted it online. In the days after running “Deadly Immunity,” we amended the story with five corrections (which can still be found logged here) that went far in undermining Kennedy’s exposé. At the time, we felt that correcting the piece — and keeping it on the site, in the spirit of transparency — was the best way to operate. But subsequent critics, including most recently, Seth Mnookin in his book “The Panic Virus,” further eroded any faith we had in the story’s value. We’ve grown to believe the best reader service is to delete the piece entirely.
“I regret we didn’t move on this more quickly, as evidence continued to emerge debunking the vaccines and autism link,” says former Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh, now editor at large. “But continued revelations of the flaws and even fraud tainting the science behind the connection make taking down the story the right thing to do.” The story’s original URL now links to our autism topics page, which we believe now offers a strong record of clear thinking and skeptical coverage we’re proud of — including the critical pursuit of others who continue to propagate the debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.
Salon was convinced that all the science is in and there is no link between vaccines and autism. Their mission now was to go after anyone else who dared to “propagate the debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.” No one at Salon was troubled by the lack of vaccine oversight, the conflicts of interest waivers that are rampant at the CDC, the drug industry funded vaccine safety studies, or the explosion in neurologically impaired children that no official can reasonably explain.
Salon.com may criticize Julie Gerberding and Liz Fowler’s pharma ties, but if the subject is vaccines, then a corporate insider like Dr. Paul Offit gets a free pass. Sept 22, 2008, Rahul K. Parikh, MD had a piece in Salon attacking Andrew Wakefield, David Kirby, and Dan Burton for daring to talk about the vaccine-autism link. In Inside the vaccine-and-autism scare,Inside the vaccine-and -autism scare http://www.salon.com/2008/09/22/autism_2/, Parikh promoted Paul Offit’s “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. Offit was portrayed as the persecuted crusading doctor up against the dangerous anti-vaccine element.
A pediatrician traces the rise of the anti-vaccine movement that falsely linked thimerosal with autism and turned parents away from the most lifesaving medicine in history
Early in Dr. Paul A. Offit’s new book, he describes a threatening letter he received from a man in Seattle. “I will hang you by you neck until you are dead!” it read. The FBI deemed the threat credible, assigning Offit a protective officer who, for the next few months, followed him “to and from lunch, a gun hanging at his side.” He then recalls a suspicious phone call from a man who recited the names of Offit’s two children and where they went to school: “His implication was clear. He knew where my children went to school. Then he hung up.” These days, the hospital he works in regularly screens his mail for suspicious packages.
Parikh and Salon weren’t troubled by the fact that Offit has personally made millions dollars from his own vaccine.
Offit, it turns out, has been targeted by them because he helped to develop a vaccine that prevents rotavirus, a serious gastrointestinal infection in children, and because he has been staunchly pro-vaccine in a time when there are many doubts about their safety.
It didn’t seem to occur to anyone at Salon that there might be more to the story than the one-sided propaganda piece by another doctor. Evidently no one thought to check on the validity of Parikh’s claims that Wakefield said the MMR causes autism, that Dan Burton’s grand-daughter was vaccine injured, all thimerosal was removed in 2001, and that no science has ever shown a link to vaccines.
Earlier in 2008, Salon found that the Hannah Poling case didn’t really mean vaccines cause autism.Also by Dr. Parikh What the Poling autism case means--The widely publicized court victory for the family who claimed vaccines caused autism in their daughter does not prove a link. This is the double standard at Salon. They may expose the truth about the FDA’s failure to regulate the meat industry and certain government officials may come under fire for taking industry jobs, but under no circumstance will Salon honestly scrutinize the controversy over vaccine safety. The consequences are too massive to consider. Parents would not be so willing to allow their children to receive seven or eight vaccines during a single doctor’s visit. There would be demands for accountability. People would want to know who should be held responsible for all the damage from an unchecked, unsafe vaccination schedule. This is an unprecedented situation and one Salon isn’t willing to tackle. Instead, they’ll give a pass to the FDA and the CDC’s pathetic record of vaccine oversight. They’ll ask no questions and demand no answers.