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No, antivaccine quack Mark Geier has not been exonerated, but the Maryland Board of Physicians appears to have screwed up

Autism quack Dr. Mark Geier recently won a $2.5 million judgment against the Maryland Board of Physicians for having violated his medical privacy by including the name of a drug he was taking in a public cease-and-decist order. Antivaxers are trying to spin this as some sort of vindication of his antivaccine quackery. Make no mistake, the board appears to have screwed up, but that has nothing to do with whether its revocation of Geier’s medical license was justified.

There was a time when I used to write a lot about Mark and David Geier, the father-son team of autism quacks who “pioneered” chemical castration with Lupron as a treatment for autism. Mark Geier is the father and an MD, while David Geier is the son and has no relevant medical training. That time was nearly twelve years ago, when I (and other bloggers) first noticed this particularly horrific bit of quackery being perpetrated on autistic children. We also noted how the Geiers played fast and loose with the rules governing human subjects research, using their own dubious institutional review board (IRB) to oversee their “clinical trials” testing what they called the “Lupron protocol.” They even had a self-constructed laboratory in the basement of Mark Geier’s house, complete with incubators and a cell culture hood, where they pretended to do real research.

Sadly, it wasn’t until three years later that the mainstream press started to notice the Geiers’ quackery that skeptical bloggers had been writing about for years. As a result, in 2011 the Maryland Board of Physicians took emergency action to stripped Mark Geier of his medical license and bring action against David Geier for practicing medicine without a license, fining him $10,000. At the time, the Geiers had been franchising their Lupron protocol, leading to its spreading to Florida (with the help of wealthy Florida chiropractor and Republican donor Gary Kompothecras, the same man who arranged for antivaccine icon Andrew Wakefield to meet with Donald Trump when he was campaigning in Florida).

Mark Geier
Mark Geier, pretending to be a real scientist again.

Before today, I hadn’t written about Mark Geier in years, the last time being in 2013, when, for some reason, the George Washington School of Public Health allowed him to mentor a graduate student in epidemiology. Over the weekend, though, I was forced to take notice of the Geiers again when people started sending me a link to a story in the Washington Post, Regulators who targeted anti-vaccine doctor may pay millions for humiliating him, and, not surprisingly, yesterday the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism was proclaiming that this somehow proves that there is a vast conspiracy against the Geiers. Let’s take a look at the crank version of events and compare to the real version of events.

First, some revisionist history:

Note: A decade or more ago, chelation and other forms of mercury/heavy metal removal were very much at the forefront of autism treatments. The pediatric vaccine schedule had been bloated with bolus doses of mercury and many parents saw success in remediating autism symptoms via chelation. Dr. Geier spearheaded a treatment with Lupron, to target testosterone with the goal of ameliorating AGGRESSION. In 2018, Anne Dachel is writing about the skyrocketing rates of aggression in school aged children, with and without special needs or autism. School shootings are a regular occurrence. Had Dr. Geier been able to conduct his work, perhaps we might have had a mechanism to lower aggression. Alas, the powers that be (talk about your deep state, and I don’t even know what that phrase actually means) have NEVER allowed a single autism “TREATMENT” outside of ABA and other non-medical interventions.

This speculation is utterly astounding in its level of brain death. Lupron is the trade name for a drug called leuprolide acetate a synthetic analog of a hormone known as gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH, a.k.a. LH-RH). After causing an initial stimulation of gonadotropin receptors by binding to them, chronic administration of Lupron inhibits gonadotropin secretion, specifically leutenizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The end result is the inhibition of the synthesis of steroid hormones in the testes in men and in the ovaries in women. In men, testosterone and androgen levels fall to castrate levels, and in women estrogens are reduced to postmenopausal levels. It’s main use in men is to treat metastatic prostate cancer without surgical castration. (It is, after all, chemical castration.) In women, it is sometimes used to suppress the ovaries in the treatment of estrogen-responsive breast cancer. It’s also used in some in vitro fertilization protocols. In children, there is only one medically accepted use of Lupron, and that is to treat precocious puberty, defined as the onset of secondary sexual characteristics before 8 years old in girls and 9 years old in boys. As I described in great detail the first time I wrote about this protocol, there is no good evidence that lowering testosterone levels is a valid treatment for autism. Subjecting autistic children to Lupron to treat autism is, without a doubt, the rankest quackery, and that is why the Maryland Board of Physicians acted. Never forget that.

So what happened? This:

But the regulators who stripped Geier’s credentials are now in the hot seat, ordered to each personally pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages by a judge who says the board abused its power in an attempt to humiliate the doctor and his family.

The board posted a cease-and-desist order on its website in 2012 alleging that Geier had improperly prescribed medication for himself, his wife and his son while his license was suspended. In an unusual move, the order named the drugs in question. Online critics of Geier took notice, mocking the doctor and his family in blogs and comments for their use of the medications.

The Geiers say the state publicized those details for vengeance, to punish a doctor with unconventional ideas. State officials say it was an honest mistake.

But Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin sided with the Geiers, awarding them $2.5 million in damages.

If anyone should know better than to do something like this, physicians who make up the Maryland Board of Physicians should know that this is simply not done. Why were the Geiers so embarrassed by the revelation of the drugs being used? I happen to know which drug was prescribed, and I’m not sure why it would be so embarrassing, but I’m not going to identify it anyway. It doesn’t really matter. Including it in a publicly available cease-and-desist order is simply not done. It didn’t need to be done, and the judge slapped the board down hard for it:

He called the order a significant breach of medical privacy and accused the board and its staff of failing to preserve emails related to the case and pleading ignorance about the order on the witness stand.

“If their testimony were to be believed, which the court does not, it is the worst case of collective amnesia in the history of Maryland government and on par with the collective memory failure on display at the Watergate hearings,” Rubin wrote in a December opinion.

He ordered 14 board appointees, the board’s lead attorney and the lead investigator on the Geier case to pay half of the damages out of their own pockets, between $10,000 and $200,000 apiece, depending on their net worth.

In fairness, I note that some of the board members dispute this version of events. Certainly this judgment is heading for appeal, and the judgment could well be reduced or even thrown out. I’m not a lawyer; I don’t know what the likelihood of either outcome is. I am, however, disturbed enough to note that some of the behavior of the board certainly sounds unprofessional and foolish. For instance:

Rubin described the decision to name the drugs in the order as an extraordinary breach of privacy for an agency that should know better than anyone else the importance of confidentiality in the medical profession. He pointed to emails sent later on during the probe as evidence of the board’s motivation to embarrass the Geiers.

Pepper referred derisively to the Geiers as “Daddy G” and “Baby G” in emails to Josh Shafer, the board investigator leading the probe of the Geiers.

“Maybe we can help make it a bad month” for the Geiers, Shafer wrote back, using a derogatory reference to the drugs they were using.

Pepper’s excuse sounds like 100% grade A bullshit:

At trial, Pepper said she knew the Geiers’ private medical information would be online as a result of the order, but didn’t think it would be embarrassing. She said she named the drugs to clarify that they weren’t dangerous controlled substances and named the recipients to clarify that Geier wasn’t prescribing the medication or juveniles.

The mind boggles that anyone would think that such an unbelievable response would fly. Moreover, the board was clearly asleep at the wheel:

All but one member of the Board of Physicians who voted to approve the cease-and-desist order on Jan. 25, 2012 later told the judge they didn’t actually read it.

“It is sort of like looking out an airplane window watching the pilot walking around kicking the rubber and pulling on the metal. I don’t have to go behind him and pull it. I trust the pilot to do his job,” testified Paul Elder, an anesthesiologist from Anne Arundel County who was appointed by former governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R) in 2003 and chaired the board at the time of the Geier investigation. “I trust the Board staff to do their job and construct a document that was ready for signature.”

The stupid, it burns. When you’re part of an official government board charged with enforcing state law and regulations governing medical practice, it’s grossly irresponsible of you not to read every order you’re asked to vote on to send out in the name of your board. I, too, trust staff to construct documents ready for signature. That doesn’t mean that I don’t read them before I do sign them.

I can’t help but note here that, if the judgment holds, the board will have handed Geier’s defenders a huge gift in terms of propaganda. Indeed, already the antivaxers over at Age of Autism are using this judgment as “proof” that Geier was persecuted, not prosecuted, by the Maryland Board of Physicians:

As an aside, Lupron was not a poison being offered by doctors. Back in the early 2000s my daughter Mia went to a pediatric endocrinologist in Cleveland at the prestigious Rainbow Babies and Children’s’ Hospital – the home of Dr. Max Wiznitzer. This young doctor, a Dartmouth Fellow, immediately suggested LUPRON for my daughter. Not for her autism, but for early development. The press always portrayed Dr. Geier as a Mengele experimenting on our children. When I asked the Cleveland Doc what Lupron would do to Mia’s seizures – increase them? Make them worse? He had NO IDEA. And yet he still was willing to put her onto Lupron.

I hope that other doctors who have been pilloried by their “peers” for trying to help families drowning in the challenges of autism take a bit of hope in this news below. Try to read around the snarky nastiness that is WaPo when it comes to our kids. They are wretchedly unsympathetic to our plight. Kim

As an aside, I note that clearly Dr. Wiznitzer thought that the Kim Stagliano’s daughter had premature puberty and that he was only expressing his lack of knowledge whether Lupron increases seizure activity. It’s not clear whether Lupron predisposes to seizures. If you read the Lupron website, you’ll note that it warns that seizures “have been observed in patients taking GnRH agonists, like LUPRON DEPOT-PED, with or without a history of seizures, epilepsy, brain or brain vessel problems or tumors, and in patients taking medications that have been connected to seizures.” In other words, they don’t know if the observed seizures were caused by Lupron or if Lupron predisposes to seizures. Of course, to me this is a good additional reason why it is a horrible idea to give Lupron to children who do not have a valid medical indication to need Lupron.

None of this stops the various commenters at AoA from gloating over the victory, rambling about “punishing” pharma, and even invoking Trumpian “deep state” conspiracies as the reason why the idea that vaccines cause autism is not accepted by the medical profession.

Time for a reality check. Mark and David Geier came up with their Lupron protocol based on not just one but two scientifically discredited hypothesis. The first is the idea that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in many childhood vaccines vaccines causes autism, a failed hypothesis. Second is the scientifically unsupported idea that somehow testosterone binds the mercury from vaccines that to them cause autism and makes it somehow more difficult to chelate. I kid you not. They called them “testosterone sheets.” Never mind that there is no convincing scientific evidence that chelation therapy does anything to help the behavioral symptoms of autism or that mercury in vaccines causes autism, and never mind that there is no physiological evidence that testosterone in any way binds mercury in the body, much less makes it inaccessible to chelation therapy. Never mind that the Geiers based their concept of “testosterone sheets” on a paper from 1968 looking at the crystal structure of testosterone and mercuric chloride derived from crystals made by boiling equimolar amounts of testosterone and mercuric chloride in hot benzene, conditions far from physiologic. They just speculated that testosterone binds mercury and that lowering testosterone would free up the mercury for chelation, even though there was no evidence for this concept. Yet, based on this concept, not only did the Geiers subject autistic children to both chelation therapy (which can kill) but to Lupron, which provides no benefit at not inconsiderable risk. They then franchised the idea and even tried to patent it.

Let’s also not forget that the behavior of the Maryland Board of Physicians, if indeed they did what the judge ruled that they did, has nothing to do with whether Mark Geier deserved to have his medical license revoked, the rantings of Erin Elizabeth and the antivaxers at AoA notwithstanding. He did, without a doubt. for charging huge sums of money for their dangerous quackery The revocation of his license went through all the due process, including appeal. Not only that, Maryland wasn’t the only state that took his license away. A total of twelve states did, and now Mark Geier does not have a license to practice anywhere in the US. This is a very good thing for autistic children, as the Geiers should be allowed nowhere near children with any medication. Nothing what the Maryland Board of Physicians might or might not have done to humiliate him publicly changes that. If the Maryland Board of Physicians did indeed do what the judge’s ruling says it did, it deserves some form of sanctions. After all, if it vindictively revealed something about Mark Geier’s medical history, it could do it to another physician. None of this means that Mark Geier has in any way been exonerated. He has not.

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]

80 replies on “No, antivaccine quack Mark Geier has not been exonerated, but the Maryland Board of Physicians appears to have screwed up”

I found an online news account of a physician disciplined in another state, for writing bogus prescriptions in the names of patients for medications which allegedly were used by the doc instead.

The news story, evidently citing info made available by the medical board, mentioned several of the drugs, including a couple of opiates and anti-anxiety meds.

Did this other state board effectively “humiliate” the physician in question? Is publicly revealing the names of drugs improperly prescribed ever justified?

Note that the Post story says an administrative law judge found that the meds in question were “prescribed” by his non-physician son David, which is ironic considering the Maryland board earlier took action against the son for practicing medicine without a license.

I’d be willing to bet that in the case you describe the drugs were not prescribed by that physician to the physician himself for his own personal use, and I’ll further bet that the patients involved were not named in the communication by the board. Therein lies the difference. Geier was thought to have prescribed the medication for his own personal use. Revealing the name of the drug reveals something about Geier’s medical history to the public, a clear violation of HIPAA and unethical to boot. That’s why it’s a violation of medical privacy. This is a no-brainer. It’s not even close.

It really is a damned shame that ignorance or vindictiveness by the board makes the vile Geiers seem like victims.

The unnamed physician who wrote false scrips for his patients that were meant for himself is also different because presumably he was using those drugs in a non-medical recreational way. For any other reason he would not have had any difficulty acquiring them in a conventional way.
Any medical privacy issue is moot, because any legal proceeding would name the drugs in a publicly available transcript and would have to be in there for proof of the severity of his actions.

So the anti-vaccine argument is “the board violated their privacy in a case where they prescribed themselves drugs illegally, so it was perfectly okay to chemically castrate autistic kids without any science”? Not very strong.

What the board did is beyond troubling. If confirmed, they certainly deserve the penalty. A point raised in another thread was that this bad behavior and merited sanction may deter qualified people in future from serving on the board – a volunteer position. And that’s a concern. But it’s also really good to know that there’s someone guarding the guardians.

In other words: this is just another demonstration of the antivaccine movement’s extreme double standard:
– Regular medicine must live up to nigh impossible standards of scientific evidence, ethics and human conduct in order to be trusted (which of course never happens, as there’s always some blemish or other — and once in a while a major cock-up such as this one), and every faux pas of regular medicine is immediately celebrated as a vindication of the antivaccine movement’s point of view, yet
– They themselves fully expect to be trusted and believed based on the weakest of evidence (or often none at all, i.e. mere hearsay or anecdotes), with their ‘heroes’ often proven guilty of one or more instances of a very serious breach of ethics.

I wonder how this came to be. Perhaps the antivaccine crowd is so used to being, um, ‘corrected’ and scolded that they kind of accepted that they’ll be looked upon with disdain and derision anyway, and as a result adjusted their own internal ethical standards to that level? It is somewhat puzzling, because I’m quite certain that these people don’t explicitly set out to be so stupid and morally bankrupt as they appear to us…

No that is not what happened. Gosh.. I cannot believe this site.. it is so full of it! firstly… the medication was not prescribed illegally, and they were not actually drugs … those are trumped up charges that were not proven but said often enough I suppose the weak minded will believe that. Secondly you and this quack have the whole ‘chemically castrate’ notion and context mixed up. Lastly, but most importantly.. in your own line of logic… why would all the boards of all the medical institutions constantly go after Autism Drs by discrediting them personally, attacking their families and arguing semantics about law or getting their knickers in a knot over what Drs charge instead of debating the real medical issue at hand. So what if any Dr charges what they do for treatment. how is this ever relevant to the efficacy of the treatment.. why does this always come up with naturopathic and homeopathic and herbal and medical Drs who dare to question the safety of any vaccine? Just because you disagree and cannot find any benefit from something doesn’t mean it isn’t valid, and if the science backs it up, by what authority do you get to cherry pick what science you want to use whenever the real relevance is not what heals or what helps, but what level of impact it will have on the bottom dollar for the shareholders of the pharmaceutical companies and just such boards who stand to loose hundreds of times more than this Dr was even making! Good grief. I am amazed some of these Drs managed to get a degree with the terrible lack of reason and comprehension I see here.. .and It should be devastatingly embarrassing, but oddly enough you people will continue to fight the contrived fight. What the board did is what they have always done. they play games and forget what they did when on the stand and suddenly all the evidence of their planned campaign to slur a persons character is conveniently deleted. This is exactly what the CDC tried to do and thank God for people like Dr HOoker who saved the evidence of fraud, otherwise we still may not know the full extent of the deceit. It is pure luck that this case was heard by a Judge who has a humane conscience and an academic understanding of the law and its purpose. The point about people not wanting to serve on the board is silly because the only reason it has now become attractive is that the Trump administration is no longer honouring the 1986 law that absolves all vaccine producers from liability irrespective of the massive amount of SCIENCE to back it up. finally, people are unafraid to speak up now because even though 100 drs have been murdered in the last 24 months in america alone for daring to question vaccines, being held accountable for your actions is the LEAST a board can do if they want to hold an office of such authority to lord over what must be the single most important thing for all people in the world… their heath.. the aspect of their lives that controls the quality and the duration. I hope you all get your vaccines and enjoy the fall out. I have had it with this insanity. You Americans are the laughing stock of the world – and this is quite something coming from a South African who just survived the likes of Jacob Zuma and the Guptas who are now wanted by interpol. if it were not for the dollar (and that will end soon as well) you will be considered the inconvenient and rather demented uncle in the family of the world who is mostly drunk and constantly exposing his grimy privates.

So this Professor of Genetics (NIH for 10 years) who also happened to START Genetic Engineering by the way, and who has nearly 4 decades of experience dealing with vaccines and who actually fought for the implementation of the DTaP vaccine found a way to help Autistic children and the medical and pharmaceutical companies went after him for using a medication that they deemed unsafe.. but got the name of the meds wrong at first.. .lol! they didn’t even know what he was doing, and didn’t care because all that mattered was that his son was able to prescribe a natural medication legally and that really got their goat! They falsely accused him of doing what the American government has done to THOUSANDS of American soldiers for the last half century.

they had no case so it took them a year to fabricate one and it was based on discrimination and humiliation and NOT anything medical or scientific, and they finally got what was coming to them for ruining so many medical professionals lives who will not pander to the deceit….

what the board did was despicable and unethical and illegal and their excuse really was “we forgot”…. lol not strong at all.

Perhaps some real Drs and honest men and women will step up to populate the board now 🙂

So this Professor of Genetics (NIH for 10 years) who also happened to START Genetic Engineering by the way

Oh, missed this from under the wall of text. Mark Geier invented genetic engineering. ¿Cómo se dice? Ah, yes “…. lol not strong at all.”

firstly… the medication was not prescribed illegally, and they were not actually drugs

As neither Geier was at the time permitted to prescribe medication, any medication had to be prescribed illegally. The point of issue is that the board mentioned what the medication was, thereby violating Geier’s privacy. Oh and it was an actual drug.

Secondly you and this quack have the whole ‘chemically castrate’ notion and context mixed up.

Lupron is used for chemical castration.

Lastly, but most importantly.. in your own line of logic… why would all the boards of all the medical institutions constantly go after Autism Drs by discrediting them personally, attacking their families and arguing semantics about law or getting their knickers in a knot over what Drs charge instead of debating the real medical issue at hand.

They don’t.

Medical boards are interested in these doctors, because their unethical practices are putting patients at risk.

So what if any Dr charges what they do for treatment. how is this ever relevant to the efficacy of the treatment.

This is exactly the point. The treatments don’t work, so charging anything for them is unethical. It is even worse when the treatments are harmful as well.

why does this always come up with naturopathic and homeopathic and herbal and medical Drs who dare to question the safety of any vaccine?

You are aware that neither naturopathy nor homeopathy are medicine? I imagine these doctors are anti-vaccine, because vaccines undermine their business models.

Good grief. I am amazed some of these Drs managed to get a degree with the terrible lack of reason and comprehension I see here.

I am amazed that you have never come across the concept of the behaviour of people in glass houses. P.S. paragraphs and punctuation were invented for a reason.

This is exactly what the CDC tried to do and thank God for people like Dr HOoker who saved the evidence of fraud, otherwise we still may not know the full extent of the deceit.

That statement is amusing. Brian Hooker found no evidence of fraud, because there was none. Ironically given your rant, Brian Hooker had his paper retracted due to an undeclared conflict of interest. His work was also incompetent and his paper wrong, because he doesn’t understand statistical methods or experimental design.

So this Professor of Genetics (NIH for 10 years) who also happened to START Genetic Engineering by the way, and who has nearly 4 decades of experience dealing with vaccines and who actually fought for the implementation of the DTaP vaccine found a way to help Autistic children and the medical and pharmaceutical companies went after him for using a medication that they deemed unsafe

As far as I can tell, there is nothing in this sentence that is correct.

As neither Geier was at the time permitted to prescribe medication, any medication had to be prescribed illegally. The point of issue is that the board mentioned what the medication was, thereby violating Geier’s privacy.

Oh, right, the topic of the post. Snap to, Slothrop.

According to Jake Crosby, this is somehow a “Watergate”-level conspiracy against the Geiers. No Jake, the revulsion the Geiers provoked in people led them to do a stupid thing. None of that will bring Geier’s licence to practice back; he lost that of his own doing.

According to Jake Crosby, this is somehow a “Watergate”-level conspiracy against the Geiers.

The irony in that one was so pea-soup thick that I couldn’t even force my way through to the end.

Yah, but isn’t that mostly what Jake posts? Copy/paste some article, and “Hans” unrelated comments – lather, rinse, repeat.

Well, except when he tried to call down a troll storm. It might have worked if he had any followers.

This site is evidently one-sided. Terms like “autism quacks” and “anti-vaxxers” do nothing to achieve a real dialogue with families of children who have genuinely been harmed by toxic ingredients in the vaccines they have been given. Instead of calling names and pointing fingers, why not do some due diligence as to WHY so many people in the US are concerned enough about what is IN vaccines to limit, or avoid them? Resistance to mandatory vaccination is growing with every vaccine-damaged child. It would behoove you folks to pay attention to what their families are saying if you want to be taken seriously. Our family has done the due diligence. We don’t vaccinate.

This site has been following the Geiers for a long time, and they earned the terms. I expect most people agree that chemically castrating children with no basis is quackery and wrong.

Autism is not a vaccine injury, and serious harms from vaccines are extremely rare. We can sympathize with families who find having a child with special need challenging without accepting mistaken blaming of vaccines.

Yup. I’ve been following the Geiers for over 12 years now, and I first noted their advocacy of chemical castration to treat autism 12 years ago this month.

Also, Mark Geier is, in my not-so-humble opinion, a charlatan of the first order, charging tens of thousands of dollars to parents of autistic children to subject them to unproven, ineffective, and potentially dangerous treatments to fix a “vaccine injury” that never occurred because the evidence is overwhelming that there is no link between vaccination and autism.

Several people here have autistic children or have some form of autism. But they don’t believe autism has anything to do with vaccinations. There is no proof for that and all arguments in favor of the idea that autism is in some way related with vaccines have been refuted multiple times. We don’t know everything, but at this moment autism seems to have more to do with genetics.

And by not vaccinating there is a risk of children getting vaccine preventable ilnesses, some of which can have nasty consequences. But not vaccinating doesn’t protect children from being diagnosed with some form of autism.

Heck, I’m an Aspie myself. And I feel very, very insulted every time when antivaxxers make it look like autism is The Single Most Horrible Scourge of Mankind, to be avoided at all cost — regardless of the fact that they are very stubbornly wrong about vaccines causing autism.

For anyone who wants to know: I’m very happy with my somewhat ‘different’ brain, equipped with some special traits and abilities which allow me a very comfortable living, doing good things for others without having to interact with them too much on a social level. And oh, I’m old enough not to have been vaccinated until the age of 4 or so, when it was already clear that I wasn’t a normal kid (e.g. preferring to be alone with books and Lego instead of playing with other kids).
If at least all these antivaxxers would stop looking down on autism, then that would be a first step in the right direction. (And yes, I know of course that there are far more severe cases of autism. But those aren’t caused by vaccines either.)

Just to dogpile on the rabbit some more

Resistance to mandatory vaccination is growing with every vaccine-damaged child. It would behoove you folks to pay attention to what their families are saying if you want to be taken seriously.

The thing is, when we listen to these stories of “vaccine injury”, things very soon stop adding up. Timelines are implausible; Case Histories make no sense; claimed injures are unlikely. And this has happened over and over and over again. Just because someone believes a vaccine caused an injury it doesn’t necessarily mean the vaccine did.

The problem here is that when you say “due diligence” what you mean by it is something that is in complete contradiction to reality. You are assuming that you have sufficient competence to judge the information available to you and to make a reasonable decision from it while failing all the while to prove to yourself whether your competence is up to the task. In light of that, why should anybody take your opinion seriously? You’re a danger to everyone around you and you not only don’t know it, but can’t be told it.

Having access to information is not equal to having the ability to judge that information. In the mantra of “trust no expert opinions,” the most important opinion you have failed to question is your own. Sad fact is that your “due diligence” puts me and my family at risk. My respect for your feelings is limited.

Ellen, just to reinforce the point that conditions that today can be diagnosed as autism/autism related were missed in the past, let me tell you a little of my own history.
As a kid I did poorly in public school . As it was so “obviously” psychological a succession of Freudians decided that I was somehow getting back at my parents, who were teachers. Nothing I said could shift anyone from that view. Fourteen years after Hans Asperger’s seminal paper finally was published in English, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was fifty years old. About a decade after that careful examination of my history and current status revealed that I also have ADHD and bipolar disorder type II. Today I would not have to endure the humiliation and shame I felt because I couldn’t “apply” myself more to my schoolwork.
In addition, my diagnoses in the past decade are part of that alleged statistical explosion of all those conditions that you raise.

Children are not genuinely harmed by “toxic ingredients” in vaccines. There ARE no “toxic ingredients” in vaccines. Most vaccine ingredients are already present in the body in significantly larger amounts, and thus by definition can’t be considered ‘toxic’. And any foreign substances, some of which might become toxic in higher doses, are present in harmless amounts. Just figure: these substances (usually antifungal and/or antibacterial agents) are used in sufficient amounts (usually some 50 micrograms) to protect a mere 0.5 ml of vaccine from spoiling, but those amounts are far, far below a pharmaceutical dose that could do anything in the body. And even then, most of those substances have an excellent and long pharmaceutical track record with regard to safety, with only relatively mild and transitory side effects even in huge therapeutic doses of up to a gram — nothing even remotely resembling what antivaxxers and quacks erroneously perceive as ‘vaccine damage’.

And then there’s this: leaving those purportedly ‘toxic ingredients’ out of vaccines would actually damage kids in significant numbers; vaccine spoilage was one of the biggest risks of vaccines in the early 20th century, and even quite recently cost the lives of more than a dozen children in Sudan.

We don’t vaccinate.

Then you are trusting and believing the wrong people. And you should also be very glad and thankful that most people do vaccinate their children, because they are the ones protecting your unvaccinated children from some very nasty diseases. Please, think about this.

I think there is more harm in the things some of these anti-vaxxers subject their autistic children to, than in vaccines. Talking about poisons.
Enema’s with bleach? Really?
Chemical castration? Chemicals, really, really bad (at least according to anti-vaxxers). Defenitly not something a sane person would subject their child to, unless there are other reasons for it. Being autistic is not one of them.
Chelation? I doubt this really a nice thing to experience. It might be neccesary in certain circumstances, but again, being autistic isn’t one of them.

“Terms like “autism quacks” and “anti-vaxxers” do nothing to achieve a real dialogue with families of children who have genuinely been harmed by toxic ingredients in the vaccines they have been given.”
Begging the question much?

Did your due diligence include learning the basics of epidemiology, biostatistics, immunology, microbiology, the history of infectious diseases, the current status around the world of vaccine-preventable diseases (but a plane flight away from U.S) and learning how causal theory applies to science? One doesn’t have to have a degree in any of the aforementioned subjects; but without the solid basics, how does one judge the validity of anything, e.g. which research is valid, etc.?

The very fact that you throw out “toxic ingredients” is a dead giveaway. Is one of them aluminum, the 3rd most abundant substance on Earth, a substance that we get in the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, and threw skin abrasions and cuts. Did you know that the amount of aluminum in breast milk or formula, which an infant is given regularly for months, far exceeds the trace amounts in vaccines?

I guess ignorance is bliss; but highly dangerous.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, but I assume you consider dr. Suzanne Humpries to be a very blissed but highly dangerous woman… ??

Resistance to mandatory vaccination is growing with every vaccine-damaged child.

There is no mandatory vaccination in the US.

A half-truth. In most places you must vaccinate children for them to attend public school, and for the majority this is close enough to ‘mandatory’ that to say otherwise is splitting hairs.

I hasten to add that I support vaccination and actually would prefer a more hardcore regime of vaccination requirements.

In most places you must vaccinate children for them to attend public school,

Only three states. The rest allow exemptions.

@Shay Simmons, Mandatory vaccination does occur in USA; California has a mandatory vaccine law for daycare and K-12 school children, having recently removed the philosophical and religious exemptions. Medical exemptions are hard o get unless your child has already been injured or died from an adverse event from vaccines. SB277.

Exemptions are very difficult to get in California. Only a medical exemption is allowed. Basically if your child was already vaccine injured or a sibling died from a vaccine adverse event, then you qualify.

Maybe I’m missing something major league, but if his license was suspended at the time he wrote these prescriptions then how are those invalid prescriptions protected under any patient privacy laws since he’s not a physician and the so-called patients therefore aren’t patients? There’s no way he didn’t know his medical license was suspended at the time he wrote those prescriptions.

He was thought to have prescribed a certain medication for his own personal use. That means that listing the medication he prescribed for himself public revealed something about his medical history public, and, worse, in this case making it public exposed him to considerable ridicule. However much you or I might despise Mark Geier (and, make no mistake about it, I do despise him for his predatory quackery used on autistic children), that does not give the board the green light to reveal anything about his medical issues to the public.

If he had written invalid prescriptions for someone else other than himself, then naming the drugs would have been OK, as long as the patients for whom the bogus prescriptions were written were not named. When Geier writes a prescription for himself, it is not possible to shield the identity of the person using the drug.

Argh. Ok. However, I’m stunned, I tell ya, just stunned, that someone like Geier, who knows the cure for everything, needs to write prescriptions from big pharma for himself and his family.

FYI, that’s the filthiest, messiest looking cell culture hood I’ve seen behind him in that picture.

@Orac

While I agree that it was unethical and foolish what Board members did, the $2.5 million is absurd. It certainly can’t affect his practice, scaring off potential patients, since he doesn’t have a medical license, so can’t affect his income, so where in hell does the judge come up with such an enormous sum? I would rather see lawsuits against the Geiers for damage done to children as result of luprin or some of their other treatments. I sometimes just want to scream when I see how people become wealthy based on lawsuits, some with merit, others without; but still not worth the sums they receive.

I’m sure you’ve read the claim by the Geier’s that they had a “world-class lab” in their basement. Yikes!

Agreeing with Chris and Joel here, that BSC is a disgrace. If your BSC is that much of a mess I’m not sure I could believe anything that comes out of your lab, just because it looks like contamination central. Given what we know about these guys, I’m not surprised.

IANAL, but the board identified both the patient and the drug, and stated that the patient was the intended end user of the drug. That the prescribing physician (who in this case was the same person as the patient) was not authorized to write the prescription is a point that could be raised on appeal, but is not necessarily relevant under HIPAA. Contrast to the case mentioned upthread, where the patients in whose names fraudulent prescriptions had been written were not named, just the physician who was alleged to be the intended end user of the named drugs that were prescribed. That case, as Orac says, does not even come close to qualifying as a HIPAA violation.

I’m inclined to think it should not be legal for a physician to write prescriptions for himself, but that is not the issue before the court.

“At least one in six American children (roughly 17%) has a diagnosed developmental disability. No matter which once-rare disorder one considers—learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), tics, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or emotional disturbances—each has witnessed a dramatic escalation over the past several decades. A systematic literature review recently published in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis contends that these trends are at crisis proportions.” This appeared in Vaccine Impact news. Is it any wonder that careful, prudent parents, who do the research, are concerned about the toxicity in vaccines?

Quoting Vaccine Impact news should invoke something like Scopie’s law.

Ellen: diagnostic criteria has changed. Children who used to be diagnosed as “mentally retarded” or “bad students” now get more accurate diagnoses like autism or ADHD. Do you really want to go back to those days?

Vaccines are no more toxic than drinking water. As the saying goes, “the dose makes the poison”. Too much water can kill you. In the amounts ANYTHING is in a vaccine, it is not harmful (barring very rare instances like allergies).

Right, Dawn.
Anti-vaxxers like to throw that “17%/ 1 in 6” around as if it signals an increase.

It merely shows the lowest standard deviation – which is the lowest sixth. That is how the category is defined. It does not vacillate like the stock market**

HOWEVER most people were unaware of these distinctions and definitions. Anti-vaxxers quote the figure without explaining what it means. It’s always one sixth as long as the system has been used.
They won’t tell you that- we will.

** attempt at levity in light of the current situation..

Just to reinforce your point, jumping from “an antivaccine site claims children have horrible health problems” to “vaccines are bad” is a big leap, without actual evidence connecting the two. Here, the evidence actually goes the other way, but even without that it’s a leap.

I’m kind of sad I can’t “like” some comments here, like yours.

Actually, originally I did turn on the “like” buttons for posts and comments. Unfortunately the feature was such a resource hog that it significantly slowed the site down even slower than its already slow loading speed was at the time.

The 17% is what you can expect because it is one standard deviation below the mean:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation#Rules_for_normally_distributed_data

Claiming it is special or high is just like claiming all children in a certain city are above average.

Also, here is some real science that provides actual treatments:
http://spark-sf.s3.amazonaws.com/SPARK_gene_list.pdf

They are looking for more families to participate, so sign up. You might learn something.

You are correct: I said it wrong.
My mind is on other figures today -DJI

( But how about Lake Wobegon?)

Ellen, it would behove you to peruse this site to see that the author has written copious posts about so-called vaccine injuries and real vaccine injuries before spouting off. “Careful prudent parents, who do the research” aren’t qualified to actually research. Look at what you cited for example.

An increase in diagnosis is not an increase in occurrence. All it tells us is that we have better access to screening tools as a society,

Exactly! There are a lot of women who are finally getting their ADD/ADHD diagnosis in their 30 (and up) who, if they were children now would be diagnosed now. That’s not a change in occurrence, as Terrie says, and it’s not a bad thing! It is far better to get a diagnosis early and start treating the condition early (and it doesn’t have to be with drugs so don’t start) rather than leaving the person to suffer the symptoms and effects of the condition while thinking they’re a failure or dumb.

And it’s just not the vaccines. Period.

There’s much debate as to whether the increase is real, or is just a result of different diagnostic criteria. Assuming the increase is real, why do you think vaccines are the cause? Large studies have been done comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children, and vaccinated children are healthier.

@ Ellen

First, many disorders that were earlier not diagnosed are now being diagnosed. A friend from childhood was diagnosed in his 60s with Aspergers. We just thought he was brilliant but highly eccentric. Second, there are a number of factors/variables that have entered into our environment over the past 50 years, starting with up to 100,000 new chemicals. Our diets have changed. Air pollution.. Men and women are having children at later ages. Children who would have died in infancy, e.g. low birth weight, are now living. Children who would have died from vaccine-preventable diseases early on, live, so that Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed, usually at 3 years of age or so.

And would it surprise you to learn that someone has done a correlation between increased eating of organic foods and ASD? And another between increased use of cell phones and ASD? Do you believe organic foods cause ASD? Correlation isn’t causation. Vaccine Impact News is an antivaccinationist website promoted by practitioners of alternative medicines, that is medicines not based on valid scientific research. Basing your opinion on what they write, you might as well accept the views of the Flat Earth Society as opposed to professors of astronomy, etc.

Orac: “I’d be willing to bet that in the case you describe the drugs were not prescribed by that physician to the physician himself for his own personal use, and I’ll further bet that the patients involved were not named in the communication by the board.”

As indicated, the charge under which the physician was sanctioned was that the physician wrote prescriptions for specified patients, but they were phony; drugs instead went to the physician. And that’s not the only such instance in which the doc and specific drugs have been named in public documents.

I’m not going to directly link to official government sites which name physicians and the drugs they are said to have prescribed for patients (or obtained by unspecified “fraud”) but diverted to their own use; if you Google search under “physician fake prescriptions drugs for own use”, they’ll come up.

Whether such revelations by federal agencies represent unconscionable and/or illegal violations of privacy is another matter. I suspect what really hurt the Maryland medical board were the staff e-mails harvested in the course of the lawsuit, which showed contempt toward the Geiers. However justified they felt based on the Geiers’ previous actions, it is unprofessional and beyond stupid in this day and age to create an easily discovered e-mail record.

What you’re describing is still not the same thing. I could explain why more easily if I were to name the drugs, but I don’t want to perpetuate the violation. Think about it, though. Why would the revelation have resulted in a campaign of online mockery directed at the Geiers?

Well, I am thinking Viagra. Maybe this won’t make it through moderation. That’s OK, I do get your point.

They just speculated that testosterone binds mercury and that lowering testosterone would free up the mercury for chelation, even though there was no evidence for this concept.

That seems like a relatively easy target for a competent biochemist. I’d be figuring out how to measure a kd. Making the assessment from a crystal structure is cringe-worthy. Talk about jumping to a conclusion.

Yeah, going through my old posts on the Geiers, I was having acid flashbacks to the early days of the blog, when I first discovered them. The facepalming was epic. (My undergrad degree was in chemistry with honors.)

Not to defend the medical board, but something is out of wack when practicing medicine without a licence (on children with potentially dangerous quack therapy) gets you a $10,000 fine, but naming and shaming said offender (with a little salt thrown in to make it sting) gets you a $2.5 million fine. How can you square those two offences? I’m my mind the former is far more egregious.

Capt

For anyone interested in more detail on the Geiers and their “Lupron protocol,” my 2006 series on Neurodiversity Weblog can be found at https://web.archive.org/web/20130401051843/http://www.neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/109 (The blog vanished in 2014, when our ISP wiped twenty servers’ worth of data all at once, but it’s been preserved for posterity at the Internet Archive.)
It’s a damned shame that the board opened itself up to this.

I’d like to note, for the record, the ability of our host (and our “side” in general) to admit mistakes and admonish their own, even when it is painful to do so.

If vaccines were so effective as you tout, they would not need such a massively expensive and extensive marketing campaign and damage-control (such as yourself) system. There is something wrong with the picture you paint.

I’m not very familiar with the advertising campaign for vaccines. I’ve only seen ads for the pertussis vaccine for adults, oh, and a TV ad for shingles (again, for older adults). Where are the MMR or tetanus vaccine advertised? Is it some kind of super-targeted marketing?

I know there is not polio on Mars (to pun upon your name) but just reading the news shows how effective the polio vaccine has been. Is there a specific vaccine that you think is ineffective? (Personally I wish the pertussis vaccine was better, but most evidence points to a problem with the human immune system and not the vaccine.)

“damage-control (such as yourself) system.”

Ah, the Pharma Shill Gambit, the “go to” claim of those who cannot provide any real data.

Could you please tell us why it is better for kids to get measles, haemophilus influenzae b, rotavirus, diphtheria, mumps, pneumonia, chicken pox, influenza, ect, instead of preventing them with a vaccine? Just provide an economic study that shows that it would be cheaper to back to every kid getting measles, mumps and chicken pox like the “good ol’ days.” Be sure that its quality is on par with Economic Evaluation of the Routine Childhood Immunization Program in the United States, 2009,

“damage-control (such as yourself) system”

Who is causing the damage? Anti-vaxxers like you. So please stop damaging public health and we can all have healthier lives.

Funny…I can go through my school photos and pick out the kids that were “dumb” or “weird” – there were always a few in every class. Hell maybe I was a weird one!

Fifty five years later these kids would have proper diagnosis instead of being dismissed as failures.

I fled high school as soon as I could and never bothered to buy a yearbook but yes…I suspect I was probably considered to be one of the weird kids.

The term of choice among teachers was FLK (‘funny-looking kid’). Use of the term where parents might hear or read it is now deprecated.

It is sort of like looking out an airplane window watching the pilot walking around kicking the rubber and pulling on the metal. I don’t have to go behind him and pull it. I trust the pilot to do his job.

That’s… not the best simile the board member could have put forward.
If the spectator is himself a pilot by trade, and, worse, one who is actually part of the crew, he should get some inkling if the pilot is doing his job correctly or not. Part of his job is precisely to watch over his colleague’s shoulder, just in case he could help.
(not that I’m faultless about helping my colleagues)

Also, the way it was said, I immediately started thinking of this Twilight zone episode with William Shatner. The one where he is watching through the airplane window some hairy dude walking around, kicking the rubber and pulling on the metal. At 20,000 feet.

More seriously, what a frelling mess.

Here’s my proposed response from the board:

“The Geiers are quacks; this has been established beyond doubt. It seems that the quacks’ privacy rights were violated in this instance, which the board deeply regrets. It was not our intent to violate medical ethics as badly as the quacks do every day. We apologize to the quack community and admit our error.

Your turn.”

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