Bush Administration Should Pay For Treatment Of Autism

Evelyn Pringle February 21, 2005

Why would government regulatory agencies deliberately deceive the American public by hiding the results of a study conducted in 1999, that proved there was a direct link between autism and the mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, contained in childhood vaccines?

When this matter was first brought to my attention, that was the 64 thousand dollar question for me. But it didn’t take too long to find the answer. There are a number of reasons that could be cited, but the main reason is money.

At first the motive for hiding the autism-thirmosal link was to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical companies that would be lost if the preservative had to be removed from the vaccines. However by now, it is concern over the amount of money the industry, and possibly the government agencies they conspired with to conceal the results of the study, are going to be forced to pay out in damages for injuring the brains of millions of innocent children.

The stakes are high for the FDA and the CDC. If a thimerosal-autism link can be firmly established, which definitely appears likely, it may bring litigation against both agencies, as well as the individual researchers and officials within their ranks.

Blatant Conflicts Of Interest

Conflicts of interest between the pharmaceutical industry and representatives of the FDA and CDC are widespread. More often than not, the researchers, members of advisory committees, and agency officials charged with deciding whether drugs should be approved as safe and effective, are in some way benefiting from drug company money.

In 1999, the Committee on Government Reform initiated an investigation into Federal vaccine policy. Their 8 month investigation focused on conflicts of interest on the part of Federal policy-makers. Committee staff conducted an extensive review of financial disclosure forms and interviewed key officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, including the FDA and CDC.

The staff report that was issued, focused on two advisory committees utilized by Federal regulators to provide expert advice on vaccine policy: (1) The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC); and (2) The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP).

The VRBPAC advises the FDA on the licensing of new vaccines, while the ACIP advises the CDC on guidelines to be issued to doctors and the states for the proper use of vaccines.

The Government Reform Committee determined that conflict of interest rules employed by the FDA and the CDC were weak, enforcement was lax, and advisory committee members with substantial ties to drug companies have been given waivers to participate in committee proceedings. The specific problems identified in the staff report included:

§ The CDC routinely grants waivers from conflict of interest rules to every member of its advisory committee.

§ CDC Advisory Committee members who are not allowed to vote on certain recommendations due to financial conflicts of interest are allowed to participate in committee deliberations and advocate specific positions.

§ The Chairman of the CDC’s advisory committee until recently owned 600 shares of stock in Merck, a pharmaceutical company with an active vaccine division.

§ Members of the CDC’s advisory committee often fill out incomplete financial disclosure statements, and are not required to provide the missing information by CDC ethics officials.

§ Four out of eight CDC advisory committee members who voted to approve guidelines for the rotavirus vaccine in June 1998 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.

§ 3 out of 5 FDA advisory committee members who voted to approve the rotavirus vaccine in December 1997 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.

A four-month investigation by United Press International, determined that members of the CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee received financial benefits from vaccine makers. Relationships included: sharing a vaccine patent; owning stock in a vaccine company; payments for research; getting money to monitor manufacturer vaccine tests; and funding academic departments. UPI also found that under a 1980 law, the CDC had 28 licensing agreements with companies, and one university, for vaccines or vaccine-related products. In addition, the CDC had eight on-going projects to collaborate on new vaccines.

A prime example of the conflicts of interest is Dr Paul Offit. He held a patent on a rotavirus vaccine and received a grant of $350,000 from Merck to develop the vaccine. He was also paid by the pharmaceutical industry to travel around the country and teach doctors that vaccines are safe. Offit was a member of the CDC’s advisory committee and voted on three rotavirus issues, including the recommendation of adding the rotavirus vaccine to the Vaccines for Children’s program.

According to some accounts, the cost of developing a new vaccine can cost half a billion dollars, which explains why a tight relationship with the CDC is priceless. An approval by the regulatory agency guarantees a market for a new vaccine, and under a 1986 law, CDC approval limits a drugmaker’s liability for side effects. Adverse Effects Known For Years

A recently discovered internal memo from the drug company, Merck, substantiates what many parents of autistic children have long suspected. The drug companies, and later the CDC and FDA, knew mercury caused autism, and decided profits were more important than protecting a generation of children against brain damage.

The LA Times recently reported that Merck knew the overuse of mercury in their vaccines posed a dangerous health threat to children. The Times cited a 1991 memo issued by Merck that said that 6-month-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish.

A copy of the memo was provided to attorneys for Vera Easter, a Texas woman who blames thimerosal for the condition of her 7-year-old son, Jordan, who is autistic and mentally retarded. That lawsuit is pending in US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The defendants include Merck and its rival vaccine makers, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis Pasteur Inc. and Wyeth; and thimerosal developer Eli Lilly & Co.

The disclosure of Merck’s findings in 1991, could have prevented millions of children from the damage caused by the poisonous vaccines. According to the House Committee on Government Reform in April 2003, “Because the FDA chose not to recall thimerosal-containing vaccines in 1999, in addition to all of those already injured, 8,000 children a day continued to be placed at risk for overdose for at least an additional two years,” its report concluded. Think how many children that adds up to if we go back to1991.

This elapsed time may be extremely damaging when it comes to lawsuits. If federal officials had ordered the removal of thimerosal by a specific date, there would be a clear date by which to measure whether exposure to the preservative caused neurological damage. As it stands now, with the beginning of the a clear association detected in 2004, a full assessment of the damage in many cases, may not be possible until late 2008 or even 2009.

Bush & Company Move To Protect Drug Companies

Bush and his Republicans puppets in congress have been working non-stop to keep the public from finding out about the gross misconduct of the drug companies and officials in the FDA and CDC. Just last month, senate bill s.3, was introduced by Senator Bill Frist, that would protect drug makers from vaccine-related litigation. This bill is the fifth piece of legislation that Frist has tried to pass to shield drug companies. Parents believe that the bill, like all others introduced by Frist, is part of the overall plot to obstruct efforts to uncover more documentation that might help explain what happened to their children.

Its not to hard to figure out why Frist has taken the lead and keeps trying to pass these laws. According to a public watchdog service, opensecrets.org, since 1997, he has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from drug companies. However, Frist got small potatoes compared to Bush. With Bush we’re talking millions. This latest attempt to pass new legislation proves one thing, the pharmaceutical industry is demanding repayment in full.

However, its not going to work. This situation has become a public health nightmare that will cost billions of dollars to fix. And one thing is for sure, it is not going to get better as time goes by. Republicans need to focus their legislative efforts on a bill that will require vaccine makers to pay to help these children get well, to whatever extent possible.

These children have been poisoned for life and each and every person involved in concealing the dangers that caused the injuries must be held accountable.

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