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Anti-vaccine activism, not autism activism, part 2

You know, when Age of Autism starts announcing its yearly “people of the year” awards, there’s always a lot of blog fodder there to be had. Given that this is the time of year when I ramp the blog down a bit and, trying to relax a little, don’t spend as much time doing detailed deconstructions or analyzing peer-reviewed papers, it’s perfect for some quick observations about the anti-vaccine movement, of which Generation Rescue promotes through its propaganda blog, Age of Autism. This time around, I’m noting how these year end awards reinforce the point that “autism advocacy” of the type that GR promotes is not anything of the sort; rather, it’s anti-vaccine advocacy. GR demonstrated this once again by naming as its “Person of the Year” for 2009 Louise Kuo Habakus, a New Jersey woman who campaigned for more “philosophical” exemptions from vaccines and whose website is chock full of anti-vaccine pseudoscience, particularly in its approved links, which link to any number of anti-vaccine websites, such as Generation Rescue, NVIC, etc. That GR and AoA would choose such a woman as their “Person of the Year” should tell you all you need to know about the relative importance of actual autism activism versus anti-vaccine activism. Between the two, anti-vaccine activism almost always wins, because, first and foremost, it’s all about the vaccines.

The next piece of evidence that this is true comes in AoA’s award to Jenny McCarthy’s boyfriend Jim Carrey for his “Quote of the Year.” What is this quote of the year? Well, it came in early April (which, given that April is Autism Awareness month, is always a time every year when the anti-vaccine stupidity flows freely in the media, in large part thanks to Generation Rescue and its spokes-celebrities Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey). This time, it came on Larry King Live, a frequent source of pseudoscience, where this exchange occurred:

KING: Isn’t the problem here, Jenny, that people sometimes listen with one ear are going to panic. And not vaccine at all?

MCCARTHY: Probably. But guess what? It’s not my fault. The reason why they’re not vaccinating is because the vaccines are not safe. Make a better product and then parents will vaccinate.

CARREY: We’re not the problem. The problem is the problem.

Wow. How Zen. It sounds like Neo in The Matrix, doesn’t it?

Personally, if the choice had been up to me, I’d have chosen Carrey’s girlfriend’s version of this same sentiment for the “quote of the year,” because it perfectly encapsulates how the anti-vaccine movement blames everyone but itself and its members for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease. This quote, too, came in early April in a TIME Magazine interview:

TIME: Your collaborator recommends that parents accept only the haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) and tetanus vaccine for newborns and then think about the rest. Not polio? What about the polio clusters in unvaccinated communities like the Amish in the U.S.? What about the 2004 outbreak that swept across Africa and Southeast Asia after a single province in northern Nigeria banned vaccines?

JM: I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their fucking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s shit. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.

I think that sums up the attitude of the anti-vaccine movement in that (1) it’s all about the vaccines and (2) Jenny and Jim are now starting to realize that their actions have consequences, namely the resurgence of vaccine-preventable disease with the attendant morbidity and mortality that result from it but they are so wedded to the idea that vaccines cause autism that they really don’t care. In Jenny and Jim’s world, your children are acceptable collateral damage in the cause of promoting her unscientific belief that vaccines cause autism. It’s not their fault that vaccination rates are falling to the point that in some areas the are falling below the levels necessary to maintain herd immunity; it’s the evil pharmaceutical companies’ fault! Yeah, that’s the ticket! In any case, my guess is that Jenny’s way of saying exactly the same thing as Jim didn’t win the AoA award because it too baldly states the shifting of blame that anti-vaccine activists do when it’s pointed out that their activities can (and are beginning to) result in the resurgence of diseases once conquered.

Worse, contrary to Jenny and Jim’s assertions, we already do have vaccines that are safe, but no amount of science or evidence will convince anti-vaccine activists to use them on their children. Moreover, the government and pharmaceutical companies are listening to anti-vaccine loons like Jenny and Jim far more than their ignorant pseudoscientific nonsense would deserve based only on science and even though many of them are scientific illiterates. Scientists waste millions of dollars studying over and over again the question of whether vaccines are associated with autism and keep finding the same answer: They aren’t.

The message never sinks in. I fear it never will, at least not until we really return to the bad old days of polio scares, hundreds of thousands of cases of measles per year, and children dying of Haemophilus influenzae type B again.

ADDENDUM:

The comments are, of course, abuzz in the AoA post linked to above, and they’re more evidence than ever that it’s all about the vaccines, rather than actual autism advocacy. If you want the best example of scientific ignorance on display in the service of an anti-vaccine agenda, you can’t go wrong with this comment from Kathy Blanco:

To put it in Jim’s vanacular…There Psychos! (The Grinch). I think the problem is more than a problem, it is an ever reaching ideal to think that you can control the immune system by injecting foregin proteins in children’s bodies, who’s immune systems are not developed, and or not able to detox. I would have rather dealt with the real disease with homeopathy, vitamins and nutrients, than a lifetime of chronic debilitating, life changing unwellness.

Sorry, Kathy. Just because you can’t imagine how immune responses can be primed with vaccines doesn’t mean that scientists and physicians don’t. Moreover, “detox” as The One True Cause of All Disease is a myth; its advocates can’t even define the “toxins” that they’re supposedly “detoxing.” Oh, and homeopathy is the purest form of quackery that I’m aware of, with the possible exception of reiki.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

362 replies on “Anti-vaccine activism, not autism activism, part 2”

I recently found your blog and want to commend you for fighting against the anti-vaccine crowd. My father just died of post polio syndrome and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. My usually reticent, live and let live mother has been known to back total strangers into a corner with her finger jabbing their chest if they say they are not getting their children vaccinated. Keep up the good work.
Thanks.

Wow, how stupid would they feel if their own children came down with polio? Would their “cause” still seem heroic to them?
What about the statistics that say the risks of complications from vaccinations are miniscule compared to the risk of dying from a disease that is preventable by vaccination? They are foolishly placing their children and others in that higher risk group because of some theory that has been disproved over and over.
Maybe Jenny, Jim, and Tom Cruise should be consulted on all our healthcare issues. They seem to know best.

I may be the problem, but I am not the problem! They’re right, though. They aren’t me.

SAS, keep coming back and tell your father’s story. We need more people that have contact with the time when such childhood diseases were a crisis. My father will likely lose his ability to walk soon thanks to post-polio syndrome. He feels fortunate to have been so mildly affected compared to the many others who died or were severely crippled.

You betcha. My mentor Irving Kenneth Zola had polio as a child and was disabled. My aunt had polio and has sequelae. I had a friend in school who had leg braces. And of course many people wound up institutionalized and dependent on ventilators, and many died.

These people want this to happen again, in order to make some point which as far as I can tell is the exact opposite of what it would actually prove. They are completely out of their minds and utterly depraved.

LOL- “un-scientific belief that vaccines cause autism”- the studies are crap, using only healthy children and laugh all you want at the “monkey study” but it’s a small study that shows big cause for concern. That type of study should have been done before giving hep b to newborns. Honestly, do you believe all the shots on the 2009 AAP schedule are necessary? Of course you don’t but just because you wouldn’t give every vaccine to your child/loved one doesn’t mean you don’t go out of your way to give the impression that it’s all great and perfectly harmless. You make me sick.

@jen

Please visit antiantivax.flurf.net and Science-Based Medicine. There’s some info at SBM on the monkey study, as well as, I believe, the hep B vaccine. Antiantivax has some info on the hep B vaccine, as well.

No one claims or suggests that vaccines are “perfectly harmless.” Please stop attributing impressions to us that we do not make.

If you take issue with the idea that a belief that vaccines cause autism is unscientific, then argue that point with evidence to back yourself up. Show us that it is not unscientific to hold such a belief.

Jenny McDeath & Jim Stupid have already exonerated themselves by blaming the vaccine manufacturers. What a croc. Fame and an inability to understand 8th grade science lead to death and disease.

Orac,anti-vaccers have only a “superficially plausible argument” that hep b is an unnecessary vaccine to day old infants? Are you kidding me? It’s more than superficially plausible that it’s a waste of public spending and potentially dangerous. Especially when they test for hep b in pregnant moms anyways. Your review of the Hewitson study shows the same bias inherant in all the pro-vacc studies (funded by vacc manufacturers). I would have to agree with you that only 3 primates in the control group is small (even for a small study) but the results still impress me as concerning.

“un-scientific belief that vaccines cause autism”- the studies are crap, using only healthy children and laugh all you want at the “monkey study” but it’s a small study that shows big cause for concern

And without the least bit of irony, I see you left this out of your post Jen…

One likely tactic of critics of the study will include attempts to nullify the evidence based on the alleged bias of those involved. For one, the study is privately funded and acknowledges some well known autism advocates as financial contributors. These include the Johnson family (Jane Johnson is co-author of Changing the Course of Autism, a member of the Board of Directors of Thoughtful House and Director of Defeat Autism Now!), SafeMinds, the Autism Research Institute and Elizabeth Birt. Although all of these groups make clear their research interest is vaccine safety, they are frequently attacked for being “anti-vaccine”, an epithet that will almost certainly be hurled again here.

And this one as well….

The most aggressive attacks, however, will likely be reserved for the study authors. The basis of these attacks is best anticipated by the following conflict of interest disclosure in the published paper.

Fer realz? You complain about REAL scientific studies but follow along hook line and sinker as the woo crew uses crap “science” and even offers a defense as they publish their tripe.

Ya know what they call “safe vaccinations”? Vaccinations!

yeah, my comments stand. Fer real. Now, you should get on out there and git yerself some o that Gardasil for you or yer boys and girls. Git yerself some Rotacrap. It’s all necercerry ya know?!

seriously, someone made the comment earlier that all this re-visiting of vaccine safety takes away research monies from other areas. Well too damned bad!! Children deserve real safety studies and you all should be policing your comrads (apparantly including the AAP) when it is warranted. Sometimes it takes hitting people’s finances (even for lab research purposes) for something to get done. This seems to be the case within this issue.
In a similar vein, Zamboni’s recent research showing surgery promise for at least some forms of MS is showing a lot of resistance by pharma sponsored tentacles. They would stand to lose a lot of revenue in pain medications, steroids and chemotherapy agents currently all part of the MS treatment package.

“Necessary” is another straw man. “Benefits greatly outweigh the costs and risks” is the actual position.

The antivaxers love that we can’t say that any vaccine is 100% safe. Well, Ive got new for them, NOTHING is 100% safe, and that’s why we can’t say vaccines are 100% safe.

Every time you travel by any means on land, sea, or air, there is a risk. Every bite of food you take and every drop you drink has the potential for a catastrophic outcome. Every breath you take in carries a genuine (if minuscule) risk. Existence has unavoidable risk.

The questions are, “Are the risks significantly outweighed by the benefits?” and “Is the risk of participation outweighed by the risk of non-participation?”. The answer to both these questions is easily and overwhelmingly in favor of vaccination.

Vaccines do carry remote risks of complications (like anything else in life); autism is not one of them. Non-vaccination carries serious and significant risks; death and permanent disability from disease are some of them.

Orac,anti-vaccers have only a “superficially plausible argument” that hep b is an unnecessary vaccine to day old infants? Are you kidding me? It’s more than superficially plausible that it’s a waste of public spending and potentially dangerous. Especially when they test for hep b in pregnant moms anyways.

Nope.

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2849

Your review of the Hewitson study shows the same bias inherant in all the pro-vacc studies (funded by vacc manufacturers). I would have to agree with you that only 3 primates in the control group is small (even for a small study) but the results still impress me as concerning.

Your being impressed with this study does not impress me. In fact, it tells me that you have no clue about the scientific method. As for bias, funny that you would dismiss “pro-vax” studies because they are funded by the government or vaccine manufacturers but you believe this piece of crap Hewitson study even though it was funded by groups that are very much interested in promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism and Hewitson her husband are complainants in the Autism Omnibus! Not only that, but Hewitson’s husband works for Thoughtful House. Now there are some serious conflicts of interest!

Of course, to anti-vaccine activists, conflicts of interest only count if they are big pharma conflicts of interest. It’s OK for someone like Hewitson to have massive conflicts of interest because, to antivaxers, she’s on the side of angel; so it doesn’t matter.

“Benefits greatly outweigh the costs and risks.” If that’s the actual position, bring it on. So your basically saying that parents should weigh the benefits/risks before decding on individual vaccines regimines. Rotacrap is probably a huge waste of money per “benefit”, Gardasil has apparently caused more serious adverese effects than actual instances of cervical cancer(at huge public cost!) and autism (whatever specifically is causing it- hydrolyzed gelatin, thimerosal,aluminum, live viruses,(“holy goal posts changing, Batman!”) costs millions to care for in the individuals life time.

Jen do you have any arguments that can’t be traced back to “a vast conspiracy of scientists, doctors and drug companies all working to give children autism and keep everyone else extremely ill”?

@jen

Do tell. Please provide some scientific evidence to back up your assertions that (1) “Gardasil has apparently caused more serious adverese effects than actual instances of cervical cancer(at huge public cost!)” and that (2) vaccines cause autism. Evidence-free claims of conspiracies do not count.

Orac, you’re glossing over a huge point. Your pro-vacc side would have loved to just ignore the fact that there IS BIAS inherant in all the vaccine studies unlike say, Cochrane Collaborative Reviews. Your side would like for that key point never to have been made an issue of but it has. Yeah, so now the other side is doing the same thing. Big freaking deal. At least they did disclose in the Hewitson study. What about Paul Offit sitting on the vacc committee? Pharma funds medical schools for God’s sake.

seriously, someone made the comment earlier that all this re-visiting of vaccine safety takes away research monies from other areas. Well too damned bad!! Children deserve real safety studies and you all should be policing your comrads (apparantly including the AAP) when it is warranted.

Already done. Vaccines DO have all the real safety studies done before they’re approved, and doctors DO call each other out when they’re in error.

In a similar vein, Zamboni’s recent research showing surgery promise for at least some forms of MS is showing a lot of resistance by pharma sponsored tentacles. They would stand to lose a lot of revenue in pain medications, steroids and chemotherapy agents currently all part of the MS treatment package.

Utter BS. Read a bit about it; nobody’s “resisting” it, just pointing out that it’s not been properly substantiated yet. Which it hasn’t.

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3197

“Benefits greatly outweigh the costs and risks.” If that’s the actual position, bring it on. So your basically saying that parents should weigh the benefits/risks before decding on individual vaccines regimines.

With the addition of the fact that, absent an understood pre-existing condition (e.g. egg allergy for flu vaccine), it is not possible for any rational weighing of risks and benefits to come down against vaccination, this is pretty much accurate.

and autism (whatever specifically is causing it- hydrolyzed gelatin, thimerosal,aluminum, live viruses,(“holy goal posts changing, Batman!”) costs millions to care for in the individuals life time.

A point which is completely, utterly, and in all other ways unrelated to any meaningful discussion of vaccines.

Oh, Jen, go away. You come, drop crap science, ignore studies because they don’t meet your needs, and run away. I’m tired of you, your lies, your crap science, and your nonsense. I’d point them out, but logical people here can readily identify them (the lie about Dr Offit for one) and I’m getting ready to go home.

Yes, life dealt you a rough hand. Deal with it. Ask SAS’s mother about her husband’s life without vaccines.

And yes, I’ve walked the walk. My girls both elected to have Gardisil. No complications for either of them. They are fully vaccinated, although to give full disclosure, they didn’t get Hep B until late elementary school, since when my girls were born they weren’t giving Hep B to newborns unless the mother tested positive, and it wasn’t required to attend school. As soon as it was required for school, they got it.

Last comment: go to any hospital pediatric ward and ask some of the older nurses if the Rotavirus vaccine is crap. Ask them about the times they had to stick a baby numerous times to start an IV in a dehydrated baby with diarrhea. Ask them about crying as they stuck a screaming child for the nth time, praying that THIS time the IV will go in and the baby gets fluids before the doctor has to do a cutdown for a deeper vein. Ask them about the babies who came in limp and non-resisting because they are so dehydrated, even though their mothers were breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, anything to get fluid into the baby. Ask them about the babies who died. Watch the tears. THEN come back and tell me the vaccine is crap.

Scott-just visited your antiantivacc site and the section on vaccines in general talked about the “fallacy” that vaccines are big money makers for pharma co.s. I notice there is no scientific evidence to back up those assertions. No reference to any figures. Treatment for the few severe cases of measles or mumps may or may not be as high for the disease VS the vaccine. Chicken pox required very little medical intervention (I suppose I’ll have to hear of the horrors of flesh eating disease now though).The point about a few physicians not being able to be re-imbursed for giving shots was weak. Even in a recent Pediatrics article, the ped was quoted as saying, “the shots bring the kids in.” That’s a fact with Pediatrics. Maybe not for GP’s but for Peds it’s a fact.

Yeah, so now the other side is doing the same thing. Big freaking deal. At least they did disclose in the Hewitson study. What about Paul Offit sitting on the vacc committee? Pharma funds medical schools for God’s sake.

Ah, I get it now. To you, it’s not about whether bias affects research or a study. It’s about whether there is the kind of bias that you like affects research or a study. If you like the bias, it’s OK. If you don’t, it’s not. It’s as simple as that. Thank you for pointing out that you don’t really care about bias in research, only bias you don’t like. Now I know how you think. You don’t really care what the science shows; you’ve already made up your mind and no amount of evidence will change your mind.

As for the Hewitson study, actually, Hewitson only disclosed this conflict of interest because I and other bloggers caught her reporting preliminary results from the same study at IMFAR last year without reporting her obvious conflicts of interest:

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2008/05/some_monkey_business_in_autism_research.php

http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=827

I once wrote about a scandal over an author of a JAMA paper who didn’t disclose his conflict of interest:

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2009/03/catherine_deangelis_and_jama.php

I see Hewitson’s attempt to report her results in 2008 as being no different. She hid information about a large conflict of interest. But, hey, to you she had the “right” conflict of interest, so to you it’s all good.

Rotacrap is probably a huge waste of money per “benefit”, Gardasil has apparently caused more serious adverese effects than actual instances of cervical cancer(at huge public cost!) and autism (whatever specifically is causing it- hydrolyzed gelatin, thimerosal,aluminum, live viruses,(“holy goal posts changing, Batman!”) costs millions to care for in the individuals life time.

Benefits?
Rotavirus – 500 000 childhood deaths, 2 million hospitalizations a year in the world. Not to mention millions more little kids suffering severe diarrhea. Nope, not worth the cost.
Gardisil – of course you’re not going to see a reduction in cervicasl cancer, you idiot. It takes years after the infection for invasive HPV cancers to develop. Gardasil has only been around for a couple of years. However, I expect to see a drop in the number of positive pap smears, colposcopies and cone biopsies fairly soon. But of course, that’s not worth the unsubstantiated risk of Gardasil, is it?
We’re still waiting for evidence that vaccines are related in any way to autism. It’s going to be a bloody long wait.
Your argument is not enhanced by your demonstration of utter cluelessness.

Jen,

They DIDN’T disclose the C of I; that’s the issue.

To paraphrase something that has been said on this blog: a disclosed conflict of interest is cause to scrutinize the data further; an undisclosed conflict of interest is a huge red flag as to the validity of the study.

Jen, you obvious years of experience in infectious disease science notwithstanding, if you are someone who is genuinely interested in educating yourself about vaccines, their safety and the utter lack of a link to autism, you can start by availing yourself of the numerous well written posts here and on the Science Based Medicine blog.

Those posts have done a far better job of providing logical support for their positions and conclusions than your compelling Rotocrap argument or your equally unsupported Gardisil assertion.

Nice job implying that something in vaccines must be causing autism without actually coming out and saying such, by the way. Holy goal post shifting indeed, and way to go keeping the goal posts on the wrong field of play- vaccines. There is no more evidence to blame vaccines for autism than there is to blame Mickey Mouse or lunar eclipses, which nearly all children with autism have been exposed to. Please come back when you have some actual support for your position and thanks for playing.

“I notice there is no scientific evidence to back up those assertions. No reference to any figures.”

Did I miss the part where you provided the financial details to back up the assertion that vaccines were big money makers for pharmaceutical manufacturers?

“(I suppose I’ll have to hear of the horrors of flesh eating disease now though)”

Try out shingles, and let me know how you like it.

MI Dawn: How did life deal me a rough hand? Are you assuming my children have autism. They don’t. I selectively vaccinated, especially with my son. Neither has ever had hep b and you’d have to shoot me first before my daughter would have that stupid Gardasil shot. I’m not ignoring any particular studies. I work with autistic children and it’s not all “rain man” out there. Theses kids have some serious problems to be helped with. Now, you go away if you’re so tired of me! Orac, I will try to find evidence of what I said about Gardasil causing more instances of seious adverse effects than cases of cervical cancer.

@jen

I’ll assume you meant to address me, not Scott. Apparently, you did not read any of the articles under the Vaccines in General section. If you had, you would have noticed in the one about the 2006 measles outbreak in Germany the significant costs associated with treating the disease. Here’s a link to the table displaying the various costs incurred.

My apologies for not including this link in the paragraph on health care costs, though I did direct readers to where a link could be found.

I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t vaccinate my children (and myself, where appropriate) against. What is it about autism that causes some parents to see it as a fate worse than death?

“you’d have to shoot me first before my daughter would have that stupid Gardasil shot”

Of course, once she reaches 18, that will be her choice and not yours any more. Should she somehow manage to reach a different conclusion despite having been raised by you, I presume you won’t need to be shot before you allow her to get vaccinated of her own free will.

Orac, I am glad that you are policing your comrads. What I said was that pharma has been enjoying bias in their studies for years without impunity. Now if both sides are biased it could be said that there is a level playing field. Ideally, neither side would have bias (such as with the Cochrane Collaborative Review).

Honestly, I hate when people play the “why does a newborn need a Hep B shot?” canard.

As someone had said in a different thread (please nominate yourself for the appropriate hat tip), is it possible that anti-vaxxers are racist?

Yes, I think it is possible. At best, I think many of them are so narrow in their upper-middle class white realm of privilege, that they cannot comprehend that a lot of diseases are disproportionately problematic for communities of color in the US, Canada, Australia and parts of Europe.

Hep B is a great example of this. HBV is endemic in Asian populations at a rate of about 9% (mostly through vertical transmission), and HOUSEHOLD EXPOSURE is a common way of transmitting the virus. So good for mom and baby if they’re negative. But what about dad? What about Oji-san or Ah-ma? Get HBV as an infant, and you will likely become a carrier and eventually develop cirrhosis and hepatic cancer.

Of course that’s of no consequence to the antivax crowd. Sure they might have some Asian friends from college, but by and large it stays outside their view of how the world is. Collateral damage?

What I said was that pharma has been enjoying bias in their studies for years without impunity.

I presume you meant to say WITH impunity. Which is regrettable, since what you actually said is accurate. Doctors and scientists have ALWAYS been aware and wary of such bias.

@Rogue Epidemiologist

Good points about parents and other extended relatives living in the same house being potential sources of infection. Mind if I paraphrase you on my site?

Wow, such wit! What a great command of the English language! Such a grand display of critical reasoning! The evidence produced has insurmountable quality! Obviously this is the level of debate that is allowed on the Age of Autism blog.

(and yes, my previous comment was sarcasm)

As a parent whose son suffered seizures from a now vaccine preventable disease, jen, you are despicable.

@Jen

Scott-just visited your antiantivacc site and the section on vaccines in general talked about the “fallacy” that vaccines are big money makers for pharma

————–

In Todd’s upside-down world fallacy means true

I don’t understand why people think vaccines are some big pharma conspiracy to make money off of children, when it’s much more profitable to have a child get one of these diseases – PICU treatment for a case of Epiglottitis from HIB can, worse case, run close to the hundred K mark. You could vaccinate 10,000 kids or so for the same amount of money you get from one severely ill child.

That arguement just doesn’t make sense.

Benefits? Rotavirus – 500 000 childhood deaths, 2 million hospitalizations a year in the world.
————-
It’s telling that anytime we need to demonstrate the horrors of these infections we have to go employ the Back to Africa gambit

@Karl
Did I miss the part where you provided the financial details to back up the assertion that vaccines were big money makers for pharmaceutical manufacturers?
————————-

http://www.prlog.org/10232681-the-worldwide-market-for-vaccines-to-reach-us507-billion-in-2013-forecasts-new-report.html
The Worldwide Market for Vaccines to reach US$50.7 billion in 2013, forecasts New Report
Prevnar (Wyeth): 2008 sales of US$2.7 billion (€1.9 billion);
Gardasil (Merck): 2008 sales of US$1.4 billion (€959 million), sales estimated at US$2.3 billion (€1.6 billion) when counting Gardasil sales by Merck, Sanofi Pasteur MSD, and CSL;
ProQuad/M-M-R II/Varivax (Merck): 2008 sales of US$1.3 billion (€867 million);
Infanrix/Pediarix (GlaxoSmithKline): 2008 sales of US$1.3 billion (€859 million);

@Sid Offit

Perhaps you weren’t paying attention, but there have been numerous deaths and serious injury in (gasp!) the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Australia, Japan and other developed nations. The Zimbabwe article is just another in a litany of articles showing the dangers of these diseases.

“It’s telling that anytime we need to demonstrate the horrors of these infections we have to go employ the Back to Africa gambit”

It’s telling that every time vaccines come up, you anti-vaxers show your true colors by wishing death and disease upon Africans 🙁

@sid, let me shift the goalposts a little here to more clearly express what I am looking for:

Please provide financials to show that vaccines are big profit makers for pharmaceutical companies, especially numbers that show that they are more profitable for pharmaceutical companies than other lines of business they can or do engage in. Showing revenue and sales numbers is not any such support. I worked for a materials manufacturer a long time ago, and we used to joke about companies that lost money on every sale, but made up for it in volume. Many companies have gone bankrupt while pointing to their massive gross revenue numbers and quite a few were even able to point out that they were EBIDTA positive when the money ran out. (We’re really in good condition if you just ignore all these negative factors on the balance sheet!)

Then after you provide those numbers, we can shift the goalpost to talk about the implied assertion that something done for profit must necessarily be evil and only in the interest of the profit maker at the expense of their victims.

@Sid: You do realize that sales/revenue and profit are not the same thing, right? I’m also interested in Karl’s question: How profitable are vaccines compared to major drugs?

@Sid Offit: Yes, we have to employ the Back to Africa gambit for diseases like HIB, polio, measles, etc because a good portion of the USA is vaccinated and therefore we have fewer lethal outbreaks of disease.
Not too long ago, when I was in nursing school and early in my nursing career, epiglottitis was a feared problem. As I am sure Orac remembers from medical school, in a peds rotation it was strictly stressed that you NEVER do an oral check of a child who is sitting leaning forward, drooling because it hurts too much to swallow until the surgeon is next to the pediatrician and you have a tracheostomy kit at bedside ready to open, since epiglottitis could be deadly. You see, in epiglottitis, caused by HIB, opening the child’s mouth wide might lead to the epiglottis snapping down on the trachea so the child can’t breathe and will die. Nice, isn’t it? Sure. Let’s go back to those days, not give vaccines. It wasn’t all that long ago. So some kids die. OK, it’s more kids than die from vaccines, but it’s OK, right? Right? As long as it’s not your kid.

@Jen: I never assumed your child has autism. However, you have complained and moaned about vaccines and their dangers, so I assumed that you had a child with some kind of health problem that you wish to blame on vaccines. BTW, what WILL you do if your daughter decides at adulthood to get vaccinated with Gardisil?

Jen, just one point about something off-topic that you brought up:

In a similar vein, Zamboni’s recent research showing surgery promise for at least some forms of MS is showing a lot of resistance by pharma sponsored tentacles. They would stand to lose a lot of revenue in pain medications, steroids and chemotherapy agents currently all part of the MS treatment package.

From what I’ve read, there is one doctor who is most notably encouraging people to be cautious about the results. His name?

Zamboni.

Be careful of going Galileo Gambit on that one.

BTW, as far as nasty problems from chickenpox, my aunt is permanently disfigured by shingles, which paralyzed some crucial facial nerves. That’s not death, I realize, but if you think autism is such a horrible fate, why do you not feel the same way about facial paralysis and other non-fatal complications of infectious disease?

Needed to take a break from working on a manuscript earlier today, and got a laugh out of that post at AoA, and in particular Kathy Blanco’s craziness. I have to give you kudos for allowing almost as crazy posts from people like Jen. Over at AoA the rules are quite different, as you know…

@Jen, #13

seriously, someone made the comment earlier that all this re-visiting of vaccine safety takes away research monies from other areas. Well too damned bad!! Children deserve real safety studies and you all should be policing your comrads (apparantly including the AAP) when it is warranted.

Yeah, but could we stop after thirty years of studies on vaccine safety and efficacy? Really, it’s been three decades, billions of dollars, hundreds of studies and thousands of papers.

But I already know your answer; No we can’t because until those studies justify your fears and fantasies, they must be wrong.

And this is what makes anti-vax a religion rather than a manifestation of a legitimate concern. I’ve been vaccinated out the wazoo when I was a kid. With vaccines that used thimerosal. In Eastern Europe. So has my entire family, down to all my distant relatives. Why are we all fine even though vaccines are all so bad and dangerous?

You do realize that sales/revenue and profit are not the same thing, right?
——————
Really? I didn’t realize that. Thanks for the heads up. Anyway Merck doesn’t break down earning from specific products or segments, so we’ll have to find another way to determine profitability.

http://m.industry.bnet.com/pharma/1000308/at-merck-desperation-sets-in-over-gardasil/
Pharma Analysis
Industry news and insights by Jim Edwards
At Merck, Desperation Sets in Over Gardasil
By Jim Edwards | Oct 19, 2008
Signs of decline are setting in at Merck’s HIGHLY PROFITABLE vaccine for some strains of HPV and cervical cancer.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN3042872920080630
NEW YORK, June 30 (Reuters) – A new form of Wyeth’s LUCRATIVE(producing a sizeable profit; “a remunerative business” ) Prevnar vaccine being developed for adults could be a breakthrough product by helping prevent pneumonia and dangerous bloodstream infections among the elderly, according to top Wyeth vaccine executives.

Greetings,

I follow this blog on a regular basis and thought to comment on sid offit and jen’s comments. Although I have no clinical expertise and am but 15 years old I can recognize the fallacies from a mile away. Whether the pharma companies profit from vaccines is irrelevant to the underlying scientific validity of the question at hand.Conflicts of interest can not interefere ti the extent that is claimed because the issues of vaccine safety has been studied many times, by different people, at different times and the vast majority of results support their safety, it I’d much more likely for the bias you so dispise to creep into the smaller studies that argue against vaccine safety.

yes, Scott, I meant with impunity-I had to leave for awhile. Chris is here! Paid blogging and all; welcome! T.Bruce- Yeah, duh it,ll take awhile to see if the cancer rates will go down but right now it’s still kind of alarming that there are so many serious adverse events. I know your not big on the VAERS system meaning much but since vaccine reactions tend to be under-reported you have to keep that in mind. BTW, Chris, I think you mentioned before that your son suffers from some kind of genetic problem and that vaccines had nothing to do with his seizures. Now your story is changing! Good try, though. Kaethe-you ask what is it about autism that makes parents think its a fate worse than death? WOW. You don’t know someone with an autistic child? I work in the schools and there are many. It’s not like “Rain Man” or that goofy guy in The Hangover. It’s kids who don’t and cannot speak. Kids who don’t even understand (minimal receptive language-they don’t even understand simple commands like, “come here”), kids who run away (bolt) at any given moment, kids who have extreme aggression and cannot be safely controlled at times, kids who eat sand and pebble, leaves and need constant supervision, kids who choke on their food and need to be watched all the time. It really is tough for the parents and care givers.

Sid, so we are racists, now. Crazy racists! Greg-that’s not very “scientifical”-just because you’re fine doesn’t mean everybody whose vaccinated out the wazoo will be fine. And yes, we must keep studying because, funny, the more shots we’re adding the more autism. Stuff that happend in the 60’s like SV-40 did little to inspire confidence.

Kaethe, if you think about it I’m sure you will realise that there are indeed some vaccines that are not worth getting. The childhood schedule is actually a limited selection of what’s available. I’m sure you don’t want to seem as mindlessly pro- as the opponents are anti-, but you did write it a bit like that.

Every time I travel outside the first world, I visit the travel clinic to check up on the currently recommended shots for my destination. Yellow fever, cholera, typhus, rabies, HepA, HepB, meningococcal … I don’t want to take the unnecessary ones, it costs money and it hurts. The typhus vacc makes my arm sore for days. Rabies is an especially nasty shot, and only worth it if you’re handling animals. And I never get the smallpox vacc any more, for some reason…

MI Dawn- I highly doubt my daughter will get the Gardasil shot. It may even be changed/recalled in time. She is 16 now and I’ve let her know that it is her decision to make but that I believe condoms are her best bet. I have had pre-cancerous lesions and needed laser surgery to correct (as have many women and no recurrence). Same with hep b. If my kids want it later then it’s their decision to make. I think the shot is more dangerous than the risk of getting the actual disease. I know alot of seizuring teens after having it in grade 5 (in Canada that’s the time we give it). Admittedly, if they needed a blood transfusion they may be at risk but otherwise I don’t think it’s a concern. If they ever come out with an AIDS vaccine I wouldn’t want them getting that either. I didn’t do H1N1. Our family lived through it and my husband and I both had pneumonia but got through.

Thank you Karl and Joseph! As a finance-type person, it really gets my goat when these anti-vax people quote sales figures and not profits. Karl, you make an especially good point when you say “especially numbers that show that they are more profitable for pharmaceutical companies than other lines of business they can or do engage in”. I did try to do this once and for the one company I was able to do this with (Aventis), the margin on vaccines was way less than non-vaccine pharmaceuticals (8% vs. 20%). So, in the world of for-profit companies, this is “charity” work because of the lost opportunity of spending resources on more profitable product lines.

Gee, how lucky we parents of autistic children are to have Jen to advocate for our kids ;-P. Seriously, what pisses me off about the banging on the autism/vaccine links is that a lot of time and energy is going to *not* figuring out what causes autism. Frankly, I’d like to know what does cause autism, and we have extremely good reasons to believe it isn’t vaccines.

I also love my kid exactly the way he is, and I’d like him to stay that way. He’s vaccinated (except for chicken pox to which he’s allergic, and I wish I could give him chicken pox) – and no, he didn’t get autism from vaccines – in retrospect his behavior was autistic from birth. No, these kids aren’t all rain man – but that’s no reason to want them to suffer preventable disease.

Sharon

Sharon, of course you love your kid the way he is but how are you so scientifically sure that he isn’t autistic due to vaccines? They give hep b at birth? Didn’t he get it? If not, why not? “I’d like him to stay that way” Who are you kidding! Like any normal mother you would want him to be self sufficient and able to function in society and be the best that he can be. You couldn’t wish anything less for him and you know it.

jen: “If they ever come out with an AIDS vaccine I wouldn’t want them getting that either. I didn’t do H1N1. Our family lived through it and my husband and I both had pneumonia but got through.”

C’mon, people – can’t you tell when jen is pulling your leg?

No genuine antivaxer could be this flamingly, horrifyingly stupid.

DB, thanks for the compliment and yes, I could be. My nana had Guillaume-Barre from the flu shot in the 70’s and Canada had the stupidity to go for the adjuvanted H1N1, so I chose not to do it. Proud of it.

@Jen: How do you know that Sharon’s son ISN’T self sufficient, and able to function in society and being the best that he can be? Just because he may not fit YOUR definition of best he can be, doesn’t mean he isn’t the best he can be, and maybe he’s even in class with one of your children. You don’t know about him, or Sharon’s expectations for him and his future. AUTISM IS NOT DEVELOPMENTAL STASIS!!! It is a developmental delay. Children with autism DO grow and develop skills. Some who also have mental disablilities may always need care…just like a Down’s syndrome child, just like a Fragile X child. But autism in and of itself does not mean that a child will never live on his/her own.

MI Dawn, I hope that he is. I hope the very best for Sharon’s son. I know they develop skills because I work with them. I also know that it takes alot of hard work, time and money. I also know that for many people, bio-medical treatments help.

Dangerous Bacon:

No genuine antivaxer could be this flamingly, horrifyingly stupid.

Have you ever encountered John Scudamore (the whale.to guy!), Jan Drew, and some others on Usenet? Trust me, they are that incredibly stupid.

Which why I sometimes have trouble with the comments that are supposed to be sarcastic. It is really hard to tell.

It’s like watching Chicken Little justify himself. If the evil oak farmers didn’t grow their trees so tall, he wouldn’t have to shout about the sky falling and cause mass hysteria!

The only thing that keeps it from being funny is that people are dead.

-Just as an aside- recently,while searching some well-known anti-vax sites (and from general recall of critiques posted @ science blogs),I got the impression that the same names and studies kept popping up**: this leads me to believe that there is a *very* limited number of doctors,publicists,proselytizers, and activists involved in the anti-vax movement and a great deal of uh.. cross-pollination.It might be interesting and informative if someone could compile a “Who’s Who” of Anti-Vax.**( in contrast to others areas with which I’m familiar)

“very limited number of doctors,publicists, etc.” Yeah, well that would be because pharmaceutical companies don’t exactly want to fund research that will actually show there are problems with their product. Ya know what I mean? Fortunately there are more people interested in funding research to properly assess vaccine safety (or lack of). Don’t worry though, as there are more and more vaccines being pounded into the kids and coincidentally more autism, there are more activists all the time, Cochrane Collaborative Reviews,etc.

@ jen, who said, “Orac, I will try to find evidence of what I said about Gardasil causing more instances of seious adverse effects than cases of cervical cancer.”

Say first, and then TRY to find evidence later? How about presenting your evidence first next time, before you spout off.

And BTW we are still waiting…

“I hope the very best for Sharon’s son. I know they develop skills because I work with them. I also know that it takes alot of hard work, time and money.”

Excellent dehumanization. Just by the by, does your “hard work” with “them” itself require “alot” of money?

Denice Walter:

It might be interesting and informative if someone could compile a “Who’s Who” of Anti-Vax.

I’m not sure what your other sources are, but one thing is to check out the archives of this blog (including its earlier incarnation). Here is something I found by putting several of the constant players into Google (blaxill binstock handley yazbak, it is the first hit, the rest seem to be anti-vax): Mercury Nostalgia.

There is also this website by a very opinionated Australian: http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/vaxliars1.htm

I would also suggest you read Arthur Allen’s book Vaccine, which has some interesting interviews. Also read Paul Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets, which has more information on specific persons (there was a Scienceblogs book club on that book a while ago). I just finished Dr. Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science which mostly goes into the media mania around Dr. Wakefield in its second to last chapter (Krigsman is mentioned, only so much as to say he has claimed to have replicated Wakefield’s study since 2002, but has not published anything).

One of the disturbing threads that runs through the vaccine-autism crowd’s writings is the absolute disdain for people with autism. They are viewed as freaks whose existence is a burden worse than death. Sometimes this sentiment is explicit, but it is nearly always implicit, as when Jenny McCarthy states that if it takes more dead kids to get what she wants, so be it.

Then there’s Jerry Kartzinel who says:

Autism, as I see it, steals the soul from a child; then, if allowed, relentlessly sucks life’s marrow out of the family members, one by one.

Nice.

Right you are, PalMD! In an unusual feat of restraint, I actually didn’t mention another of AoA’s awards, specifically how they’ve lionized Trudy Steuernagel, whose autistic son killed her. You see, autism is dangerous and violent to them.

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