Many of us stared with Dan Olmsted in disbelief the other day when Dr Paul Wang, the recently appointed medical director declared to the fluffy Ronan Farrow that MMR prevents autism.
For the record, Wang is a pharmaceutical industry insider. The Autism Speaks press announcement of his appointment states :
"Dr. Wang joins Autism Speaks from Seaside Therapeutics, where he served as vice president of clinical and medical affairs, and oversaw the company’s groundbreaking arbaclofen programs in autism and fragile X."
It does not actually mention that "the groundbreaking programs" failed.
Before that Wang was with Pfizer:
"Prior to joining Seaside Therapeutics, Dr. Wang was senior director, clinical development at Pfizer Global Research and Development from 2002-2008, where he helped lead medicines development programs for neurobehavioral disorders, including bipolar, ADHD and epilepsy. "
A fundamental problem for Autism Speaks (which was set up with $25m dollar endowment from CDC Foundation director emeritus Bernie Marcus) is that its partnerships with industry, over therapeutic treatments for autism, conflicts with locating the environmental causes.
They have been unable to decide whether autism is an environmental health disaster or just a stupendous business opportunity. It is no use them weeping crocodile tears at the IACC when they are intent on screening the population to the ultimate benefit of their business partners as the gleeful 2011 Time Magazine article about the 1 in 38 rate in the South Korean city of Goyang illustrates. It might be troubling of course that more than three quarters of the positively screened children were withdrawn by their families before the study was completed. The article appeared in the very week that Autism Speaks had appointed Robert H Ring of Pfizer as head of Translational Research, latterly of Science.
It is deeply sad watching the Marcus video once again. He seems genuinely upset and disturbed by the growing lines of children, but does he really think it was like this in his youth (only no one noticed)? Marcus is a very successful businessman (as well as being a pharmacist by academic training) so he is going to like business solutions. But to make an analogy with the building trade (where he made his fortune) what happens if we relax building standards? We would soon know if the buildings were falling down.
Our children are falling down and government just shrugs and prevaricates (and frankly lies). The blather we see here from Ronan Farrow and Paul Wang is the result. There is no coherent story that they can present.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.