The Next Vaccine-Autism Newsmaker…5 years later

6 Feb

Years back, much focus in online autism parent community discussions focused on the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP). This was the large “vaccine court” proceeding to explore if people could be compensated for autism as a vaccine injury. Those hearings were held in 2008, and the decisions went against the families.

A year ago I wrote (The Omnibus Autism Proceeding: effectively over), and while, yes, as an “Omnibus” it is effectively over, there is still activity for those who filed claims and were included in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding. Statistics as of today show there were 5,635 claims included in the Omnibus, and 4,564 have been dismissed. 2 claimants have been compensated, with the caveat given that “**HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.” This leaves 1,069 cases still pending. A relatively small fraction of the original Omnibus, but a large number nonetheless.

Another way to look at this is the Omnibus proceedings are over, the docket hasn’t been updated for quite some time but there are still individual cases to be decided. Including one case that was rather prominent in the Omnibus: that of A. Krakow. He was intended to be one of the test cases for the thimerosal but was pulled out to pursue another argument: that metabolic dysfunction is involved. David Kirby referred to him as “The Next Vaccine-Autism Newsmaker”, following the supposed game-changer of Hannah Poling.

That was in 2008. As it’s been nearly 5 years, I checked the status of the case. It turns out the first hearing was held in December (a hearing on fact) and a second hearing is set for expert witnesses to testify in April of this year. One way to explore the arguments the family may be taking is to review the experts that are testifying. For example, the family has chosen Richard Deth as an expert. His work has not focused on mitochondria. On the other hand, Yuval Shafir is also listed as an expert and has listed many articles on mitochondria with his report. Richard Frye’s CV was submitted (he also has some work on mitochondria and autism), but I don’t see that an expert report from him has been submitted.

Other experts date from 2008 (from when he was going to be an Omnibus test case) include: Elizabeth A. Mumper, Robert S. Rust, Richard Deth and Sander Greenland.

(edit to add, I see a report in the docket from Marcel Kinsbourne in 2010).

So, is this going ahead as a “mitochondrial autism” case? The “Next Hannah Poling” as David Kirby claimed in Spectrum Magazine? Well, even Hannah Poling wasn’t the game-changer some people predicted. Probably the most we can say is that is 10 years old, with a docket 16 pages long, will finally be heard.

edit to add: For the curious, here is the docket.

By Matt Carey

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8 Responses to “The Next Vaccine-Autism Newsmaker…5 years later”

  1. brian February 7, 2013 at 00:29 #

    Well, it will certainly be interesting to learn of Dr. Deth’s testimony. Deth recently suggested that “the increase in autism in the U.S. is not related to mercury exposure from fish, coal-fired power plants, thimerosal, or dental amalgam but instead to the consumption of HFCS [High Fructose Corn Syrup]. [Clin Epigenetics. 2012; 4(1): 6.]

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 7, 2013 at 00:54 #

      It may not be made public. At least in full.

      I almost posted a discussion of Richard Deth’s stature as an expert witness from the Omnibus. The special master made it quite clear that Deth was out of his league.

  2. Brian Deer February 7, 2013 at 09:27 #

    Just to save me some time, coz I’m doing other things, where is the HHS statement on non-causality and autism? I guess it’s in one of the special masters opinions or something, but I think people would be interested in that reference.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 7, 2013 at 17:15 #

      The statistics page linked to above

      **HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.

      Is that the one you are thinking of?

  3. Low Budget Dave February 7, 2013 at 11:11 #

    I think it is a shame that so many medical issues are ultimately decided by lawyers rather than scientists, but that is built into the system now, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

    My (limited) understanding is that scientists are unlikely to identify one spend specific “cause” for autism or mitochondrial disorders. It would be like trying to determine if one specific forest fire in Brazil caused Hurricane Sandy.

    Still, it is a big playing field, and there is a lot of data to work with. There are some practices that have grown so common that the only way to challenge them is in court. I briefly considered suing the hospital for the way they treated my son. The pregnancy was mishandled, the delivery was mishandled, and quite frankly, it still seems unnatural to me to give a vaccine to a newborn baby.

    Ultimately, I decided not to sue. I did not want to spend the first few years of my son’s life dealing with lawyers and placing blame. I wanted to spend it giving my son undivided attention and 100% of my effort.

    I can’t imagine that I am the only parent who gave the baby-industrial-complex a pass.

    This may be just my attempt at blame shifting, but I honestly never felt like my son’s condition was 100% my fault. If someone else made a decision that contributed to my son being autistic, then I think it is worthwhile to examine those decisions to see if they can be improved in the future.

    This does not mean that I am going to be searching the figurative rain-forests of Brazil for someone to blame, only that we should not be so quick to rule out external factors.

    I know a toddler once who drank nearly 6 ounces of carpet deodorizer. It did not cause his autism, but I strongly suspect that he had a worse reaction than average. Fortunately, no one has any idea what the “average” reaction is.

    • Pasha Bahsoun (@ThePashaB) February 8, 2013 at 05:24 #

      Dave, you could not be more right. Science should NOT be determined in the courtroom. Last week a vaccine court awarded millions of dollars to two families, which automatically prompted anti-vaccine activists to further propagate the falsehood that compensation is definitive proof that vaccines cause autism. The problem with this logic, or lack thereof, lies twofold. First, these particular families received compensation because their children experienced immediate, severe encephalopathic reactions to the vaccines, which is a known and rare complication of vaccination. The compensatory illness was definitively not autism. Secondly, science is not determined in the courtroom, therefore conclusions as to what may or may not cause autism should not be made based on judicial decisions.

      http://www.examiner.com/la-in-los-angeles/pasha-bahsoun

      • lilady February 8, 2013 at 21:25 #

        @ Pasha Bahsoun:

        “First, these particular families received compensation because their children experienced immediate, severe encephalopathic reactions to the vaccines, which is a known and rare complication of vaccination.”

        You can see all the court documents and analyses of these two cases here. The children who were eventually awarded damages for encephalopathy were not diagnosed with “immediate severe encephalopathy”. Those facts did not stop David Kirby from blogging on the Ho-Po that the two children were diagnosed with “autism”.

        http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/01/15/david-kirbys-back-and-this-time-his-anti-vaccine-fear-mongering-induces-ennui/

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