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Medicine’s Flawed Approach to Evidence

Right wrongBy Gary Ogden

Druin Burch, an Oxford physician and professor, has penned a fine piece, appearing in the December/January issue of Natural History, advocating for placebo-controlled trials for all medical interventions.  It’s a good read.

 Some gems:  “In the nineteenth century, improvements in public health practices had greatly prolonged human life.  Medicine itself, however, only started doing more good than harm around World War II . ..”

In a discussion of childhood cancer treatments: “Giving new treatments to children outside of controlled trials is not merciful compassion.  It’s a gamble in which the child is as likely to be hurt as helped, and after which-due to the lack of control-we won’t even be able to tell which effect the treatment has had.”

He speaks of the appeal of dogma, calling historical and current medical wisdom “eminence-based medicine.”  Does this sound like CDC vaccine policy?  He makes exception only for existing drugs known to be safe for use in diseases with high case-fatality rates (his example being Ebola).

But then he makes this curious statement:  “Similar arguments could be made for some vaccines, provided those vaccines are closely related to ones for which we already have abundant knowledge.”

Abundant knowledge from placebo-controlled trials?  Please, Dr. Burch, give us the names and dates of those trials, the outcomes, the raw data.  I know of only one: One of the six Gardasil trials had a very small saline placebo arm, in addition to the adjuvant (Amorphous Aluminum Hydroxyphosphate Sulfate) arm.  The data in the tables for pain, swelling, and redness are broken out into the three arms.  For all serious adverse reactions, however, the placebo data are hidden, lumped together with the adjuvant arm in the tables, to give roughly the same rate of 2.3%.  This is not science.  It is flim flam.

 We do not know, Dr. Burch, not for any vaccine, the “effect the treatment has had,” except, perhaps, in the case of smallpox.  We do have very good historical records, from the UK and elsewhere, comparing morbidity and mortality rates with vaccination rates in the 19th century for smallpox, which clearly show the cure was worse than the disease.  Why else did Parliament overturn the mandate in 1907?

We also know that case-fatality rates in the industrialized world for the infectious diseases we vaccinate against are very low, and nearly non-existent in the well nourished.  Science today, not only vaccine science, but pharmaceutical science and nutrition science, has been corrupted like never before, in part by dogma, but in the main, by the allure of riches. 

Dr. Burch knows full-well that questioning vaccine dogma is career suicide, but, in a way, he has questioned it by the force of his argument in favor of basing all medical treatment upon real scientific evidence. For this I thank him.  

Gary Ogden is retired and loves gardening, cooking, and learning, particularly about the science of nutrition, human health, and soil.



You may find this article on Gardasil interesting:

The origins of the HPV vaccine – A case of corruption in science

“The impact of researchers loyal to Big Pharma on the ethics and quality of clinical trials in Latin America

Gary Ogden

Albert: If you are interested in learning about the stupidity that has characterized the War on Cancer, there is a new book, "The Death of Cancer," by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr., the former head of the NCI. He is apparently mad as hell.

Tim Lundeen

@ Albert Wilking

And of course there is the MD's claim that there isn't really anything wrong with you, it is all in your head. This is their typical diagnosis for anything they don't understand.

Albert Wilking

The provax crowd will have a field day with this statement, "Medicine itself, however, only started doing more good than harm around World War II..."

I wonder if we could break this down into parts so that I'm clear when presenting my position. I would say surgeries, or emergency medical treatment that wasn't mercury based was necessary and improving, but definitely not preventive medicine.

I see healthcare concerns running the same racket that they have for 200 year. They provide mercury or a mercury like compound as an immune stimulant to kill of the 'bad thing.' For the ailing patient's resulting symptoms they tell the person one of the following. The person needs more of the poison to treat the symptoms of the disease, the symptoms they have are from the disease and the release of poisons of the dying disease, they need an opiate to treat their pain of the uncontrollable epidemic disease, they aren't sure why the person is sick but they can take a drug for life to treat their symptoms without ever mentioning neurotoxic poisoning, or there is nothing that can be done for the person, live with it.

So I would like to isolate the debate to preventive medicine, but then I still have the problem with mercury poisoning from dental amalgams.

Here it is in a nutshell, to get the provaxers to pause, to question their own insanity, I need to break out the benefits of surgeries, and other good healthcare treatments. How would you go about taking the steam out of their arguments? Would it be by telling them healthcare is great in ______________ areas, but when it comes to preventive medicine with vaccines, it's a scam.

Also, referencing Semmelweis and the doctors who believed it too much trouble to wash hands when going from autopsies to delivering babies, even when confronted with irrefutable evidence. Would the washing of the hands of the doctors come under health practices or under the practices of medicine? I'm really starting to see the Hep-B vaccine at 12 hours of age as the industry not wanting to get sued to death by giving babies or moms Hepatitis B, because the baby was delivered in a filthy environment crawling with toxins. We have to remember we are dealing with people that didn't think it important to spend the time or money to wash their hands.

Jeannette Bishop

"Do you know of any other vaccine trial which claims to have used a saline placebo control group?"

No. Though I'm not versed enough to be confident there are none. Someone once directed me to a link describing a trial placebo containing thimerosal (maybe to "preserve" it?) somewhere online I wouldn't have been able to stumble into on my own, but I don't remember how the placebo was described in that case or how to get back there.

That part of the Gardasil trial and the push to get that vaccine mandated for youth are maybe just more evidence of typical vaccine practices, but I wonder if they are done with that arm of the trial and if they released all data collected while testing (I have to say I think they may have been testing something anyway) with that solution.

Gary Ogden

Anne: I regret to say that the American Museum of Natural History digital archive, spanning more than a century of published work, has only gotten caught up to 2010. You could likely pick up a copy at a newsstand. There is a second fascinating article is this same issue concerning neuroimmunology; I may write about this, as it connected a lot of dots for me.
Jeannette: Thank you so much for this good information. I know better than to rely on the FDA to tell the truth. In any case, the page I referenced called it a saline placebo (clearly a false statement, contradicted by the published description of trial methods), but gave no data for anything other than minor adverse events, perhaps because this group was approximating a control for both the Gardasil and the AAHS groups, and they discovered that AAHS is just as dangerous as Gardasil (they lie like a rug, but they're very smart people who know what they are doing). I shouldn't be shocked, but calling the non-antigenic ingredients in vaccines "excipients" implies that they are inert. Do you know of any other vaccine trial which claims to have used a saline placebo control group?

Anne Schnedl

Is there a link to the article?

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you for this review and very important points. "Medicine itself, however, only started doing more good than harm around World War II ..." I'm not personally certain this isn't a little too optimistic, and Dr. Burch's use of "eminence based medicine" seems very appropriate.

Re the Gardasil trials, perhaps the link below and copied text discusses the placebo you mention (Why this "placebo" only used in youth aged 9-15?):


One of the five trials, however, was different. In this trial, the only one that examined a younger population of nine-to-fifteen year olds, the placebo recipients did not receive an aluminum adjuvant. By contrast, and according to most of the FDA documentation, the nearly 600 control subjects in this trial received a formulation most commonly described as either a “non-alum placebo” or a “saline placebo.” The safety results of this trial deserve special notice, since it’s the only trial that compared Gardasil to a solution that could reasonably be described as “inert.”

But even that assumption would overstate the case. Although the “saline placebo” did contain water and sodium chloride (ordinary table salt), the FDA was incorrect to suggest that there were no other active ingredients. According to the published description of this trial’s methods, “The placebo used in this study contained identical components to those in the vaccine, with the exception of HPV L1 VLPs and aluminum adjuvant, in a total carrier volume of 0.5 mL.” Formulations like this, which are made up of everything in the vaccine except its immunologically active components, are sometimes called a “carrier solution.” The correct description of the placebo as a “carrier solution” rather than a “saline placebo” was provided only once in the CBER review, buried in a table on page 301. Nowhere in either the CBER review or the published account of the trial can one find any description of this placebo’s ingredients.

It is possible, however, to infer the composition of the carrier solution from Merck’s Gardasil package insert, which lists the vaccine’s immunologically inactive ingredients. These include: “yeast protein, sodium chloride [table salt], L-histidine [an amino acid], polysorbate 80 [an emulsifier], sodium borate, and water for injection.” At least one of these chemicals, sodium borate, is a chemically reactive toxin, one that has many industrial uses as an active ingredient. These include applications as: a replacement for mercury in gold mining; an insecticide and fungicide; and a food additive that is now banned in the United States.

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