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Jenny McCarthy tries to position herself as in the “grey area” on vaccines

16 Apr

Jenny McCarthy seems a bit angry at bloggers. She’s written an op-ed for the Chicago Sun Times Jenny McCarthy: The gray area on vaccines. She’s not antivaccine, she wants us to know.

Well, Jenny, I don’t call you antivaccine. I call you irresponsible. And I stand by that. Mostly for your promotion of autism “therapies” which range from useless to abusive. Will you be speaking at the AutismOne conference this year? If so, will you speak out on forcing disabled children to drink diluted bleach solutions or undergo repeated diluted bleach solution enemas? Really, it’s time to grow a spine and stop lending your name to nonsense.

Back to vaccines, here’s what you say now:

For my child, I asked for a schedule that would allow one shot per visit instead of the multiple shots they were and still are giving infants.

But only a few short years ago you told us you wouldn’t vaccinate if you had another child. A very different statement. What are young parents supposed to listen to? “I’m pro vaccine” or “I wouldn’t vaccinate my child”.

Irresponsible.

You hide behind straw-man arguments, even now:

I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I’ve never told anyone to not vaccinate. Should a child with the flu receive six vaccines in one doctor visit? Should a child with a compromised immune system be treated the same way as a robust, healthy child? Shouldn’t a child with a family history of vaccine reactions have a different plan? Or at least the right to ask questions?

Parents have the right to pick their schedule. You know that. You said that in your “Green Our Vaccines” rally (3:20). The schedule is “recommended”. Children need to be vaccinated to attend school, but no one checks when they got their vaccines. Why do children need to be vaccinated? Well, for one thing, those children with compromised immune systems you talk about. They are at high risk for infectious diseases. They are not treated the same as other children, either by their pediatricians (yes, I’m calling you out on a straw man there) nor in school, where we are expected to help protect them.

Here’s what I call irresponsible: scaring people about vaccines with your ill founded opinions. Telling people that you wouldn’t vaccinate your baby, but claiming to be “pro vaccine”.

KING: Jenny, will you agree that some cases have nothing to do with vaccines, which makes it more puzzling?

MCCARTHY: Absolutely. You know, environmental toxins play a role. Viruses play a role. Those are all triggers. But vaccines play the largest role right now and something needs to be done. You know, testing these kids for immune issues, you know, that would help so much, changing the schedule. You know, I don’t understand — as a precautionary measure, why don’t they do this?

So, vaccines play the largest role right now? Based on what data? I’ve seen your “studies” and they are junk. Do you still believe that “vaccines play the largest role”? The evidence is even more against you now. You had a chance to clarify your position on autism and vaccines in your op-ed and you avoided it.

Here are more scary statements, without evidence:

But I believe that’s — it’s an infection and/or toxins and/or funguses on top of vaccines that push children into this neurological downslide which we call autism.

Here you are with Mr. Carrey:

MCCARTHY: Go back to 1989 schedule when shots were only 10 and the MMR was on that list. I don’t know what happened in 1990, there was no plague that was killing children that we had to triple the amount of vaccines.

CARREY: What happened back in 1989 that warranted 26 more vaccines?

MCCARTHY: Greed.

CARREY: Are all of them absolutely necessary?

KING: Because they want to make money?

MCCARTHY: Of course.

Vaccines are only necessary because people want to make money. That’s “pro vaccine”? More to the point, that’s responsible? Sure, let’s go back to the time when Hib infections caused lasting harm or even death. Let’s go back to the 1980′s. The vaccine is just there to feed greed, right?

Irresponsible.

I can go on and on with various irresponsible quotes of yours. Again, your statement that you would not vaccinate if you had another child is probably the most irresponsible when it comes to vaccines. Here’s what the founder of your autism organization had to say about his team’s efforts:

With less than a half-dozen full-time activists, annual budgets of six figures or less, and umpteen thousand courageous, undaunted, and selfless volunteer parents, our community, held together with duct tape and bailing wire, is in the early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.

You once shouted down someone saying that vaccines were beneficial, shouting “bullshit” on Larry King live. When you have the guts to distance yourself from the above statement, perhaps I’ll agree that you have guts. That you mean what you say. For now, it’s just Jenny McCarthy, putting her name in the press, yet again. Jenny McCarthy, selectively quoting herself to make herself seem responsible.


By Matt Carey

Yep, measles is still a killing disease

21 Mar

Vaccines are a side show to the autism discussion, I know. And, yes, I know I spend a lot of time on this side show. One reason is that the autism parent community has a segment which does a lot to harm public health by creating fear of vaccines. With the resurgence of measles in the U.S., we are seeing the discussion rise again. For example, Dr. Robert “Bob” Sears has chimed in on facebook (see a discussion at Respectful Insolence here) as has Dr. Jay Gordon on twitter (see a discussion at The Poxes).

Inevitably these discussions include statements about how people suffer injuries or even death from measles. This is then countered by claims that with good nutrition, sanitation and vitamin A, no one will suffer lasting consequences. The CDC makes this very clear:

Even in previously healthy children, measles can be a serious illness requiring hospitalization. As many as 1 out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about 1 child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.) For every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it. Measles also can make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.

But people think this is an acceptable risk, or downplay this risk. One way they do this is to estimate risk of harm by the fraction of the total population, not the fraction of the population infected. That made some sense in the old days when a sizable fraction of the population was infected each year and everyone would be infected at some point in their lives.

Consider this old graph. In a bit we will get to the edit that was done and how deceptive that is (click figure to enlarge):

measlesmortalityusa1971-75_1

The rate of measles infection dropped by about 30x between 1964 (before the introduction of the vaccine) and 1971. With that came a drop in deaths from measles. A factor that is very interesting, and very much misused, is the fact that the death rate from measles was steadily dropping before the introduction of the vaccine. Hence the “vaccines didn’t save us” myth. Had we just waited, the death rate would have dropped to the same level anyway. There’s a line extrapolating from the data that “shows” that.

First off–hooray for medical advances. They have improved the survival rate from measles. Damned glad they did. But, what about that line? Well, you can draw a line through pretty much anything if you try hard enough. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t understand the mechanism causing the trend. Why should we expect the trend before 1965 to continue for the next 45 years?

While engaging in online discussions about measles outbreaks, I ran across this website from the U.K.. The table is “Measles notifications and deaths in England and Wales, 1940-2013″. The public health officials in the UK are supposed to be “notified” of every person infected with measles, so “notifications” are “cases”. Let’s consider the notifications. (click figure to enlarge)

Measles Notifications UK

This isn’t normalized to the total population, it’s just the raw number of cases in any given year. I’ve taken the liberty to point out some events which happen to coincide with changepoints in the graph. First is the introduction of the measles vaccine, after which the number of cases per year dropped dramatically. Second is the introduction of the MMR vaccine which, again, was followed by drops in the number of cases. Lastly we see the publication of Andrew Wakefield’s now-retracted Lancet study. Shortly after which, the number of cases started to rise again. Yes, correlation is not causation, but time after time, with vaccine after vaccine we see the same thing: introduce a vaccine and the incidence of that disease decreases.

OK, we’ve looked at notifications. What about deaths? Let’s take the number of deaths and normalize by the number of notifications. In other words, let’s look at what fraction of those infected died.

Measles Deaths UK

Pre 1960 there was a steady drop in the fraction who died. Again, yay medicine. And, yes, yay nutrition and sanitation. After 1960, though, the fraction who died leveled off. 2-3 people per 1000 infected died. (it averages to about 2.6/1000 from 1960 onward).

None of this is news. In Measles Elimination in the United States, a team from the CDC writes:

By the late 1950s, even before the introduction of measles vaccine, measles-related deaths and case fatality rates in the United States had decreased markedly, presumably as a result of improvement in health care and nutrition. From 1956 to 1960, an average of 450 measles-related deaths were reported each year (∼1 death/ 1000 reported cases), compared with an average of 5300 measles-related deaths during 1912–1916 (26 deaths/ 1000 reported cases)

Catch that–that’s people from the CDC saying “yay healthcare! Yay nutrition!” and “yay vaccines!”.

Did nutrition, sanitation and improved medical care reduce the fraction of people who died from measles infection? Absolutely. Was it enough? No. Can we draw lines from old data and claim that the number who would die today would be 4 in 100 million today? Well, sure, you can draw the line. It’s dishonest, but given the source that’s not surprising. As I wrote above, you can draw a line through anything. Doesn’t make it true. If you don’t know the reason why a trend is happening, or the limitations on that trend, it’s meaningless. In this case there was a “hard floor”. There are deaths from measles that sanitation, nutrition and modern medicine can’t prevent. People still die from measles. Measles deaths in France (modern sanitation, nutrition and medicine) were seen at a rate of 3/1000 in recent years. Pregnant women, fetuses, small children and the infirm are more likely to suffer. Which is why when people like “Dr. Bob” Sears and “Dr. Jay” Gordon downplay the risks of measles–in effect telling their readers to keep relying on the rest of us to provide herd immunity–people like me speak up. Yes it’s a diversion from autism, but it’s a diversion fed by some of my fellow autism parents. And it’s an important diversion.


By Matt Carey

Autism an inside job: a webinar by 9/11 truthers and some names you might recognize.

8 Mar

For some reason autism and vaccines attract a certain fringe element. And for some reason certain segments of the autism communities are willing to join forces with this fringe. For example, consider years back when Andrew Wakefield spoke in Ireland with a new world order group at a rally called “The Masterplan: The Hidden Agenda for a Global Scientific Dictatorship”. Given this history I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ran across websites discussing a webinar held last year: “Autism 9.11 – An Inside Job: Vaccines – A Vicious Social Policy”. As you will see, the webinar includes some names that are familiar to those following the failed mercury/autism hypothesis.

Here’s the trailer for the webinar. It’s only three and a half minutes long and it’s annoyingly edited, but give it a watch.

“Born to be free. Vaccinated to be controlled”. Subtle, eh? OK, maybe in comparison to “The great culling had begun”.

In case you curious as to what the “inside job” is, and the 9.11 reference: to this team autism was an “inside job” just like 9/11 was an “inside job”. Yes, we are talking 9/11 truthers. Yes, people who think that the September 11 attacks in the U.S. were orchestrated by the government. Think this is too far out to be true? Think again:

“Is there anyone conscious who does not know that 9/11 was an inside job? Not anyone that I talk to. By now you also know that autism is an inside job as well. The crony corporatists (aka, “globalist elite”) expect to profit handsomely from the genomic disruption of our children.”

From that same page:

And what about the autistic children now becoming adults in the millions, the tragic victims of the Vaccine Big Lie? The Elite have plans for them, since they follow orders if their basic needs are met with predictable routine. They have been made into the perfect worker drones. Dr. Paul G. King told us that the vaccine schedule is being “fine tuned” to produce more “high functioning” autists for the new world order.

Yep. The rise in autism is not only real, but it is a government approved program to create a “Delta” (think Brave New World) class of workers. And, no, I’m not exaggerating.

In case you think you recognize the name in that paragraph, that would be Paul King of CoMeD. CoMeD is a group run by Mark and David Geier, major proponents of the failed idea that mercury in vaccines caused an autism epidemic. And apparently now Mr. King is telling is that “the vaccine schedule is being “fine tuned” to produce more “high functioning” autists for the new world order”.

Let’s take a look at the schedule for the “Inside Job” webinar:

SCHEDULE Autism: An Inside Job The England Hypothesis: Creating Delta Workers with Vaccines Tentative Webinar Schedule
[1] Introduction: Maj. Gen. Albert N. Stubblebine III (US Army, Ret.)
[2] Welcome: Rima E. Laibow, MD – We are all Vaccine Injured
[3] Focus: Ralph Fucetola, JD – Genomicidal Tech leads to GDS
[4] Thoughts on Individuality: General Stubblebine
[5] Viera Scheibner, PhD: The Fundamental Facts about Vaccination
[6] Christina England: Born to Be Free: Vaccinated to Be Controlled [7] Clint Richardson: Outsourcing our Children’s Minds, the CORE of the Problem
[8] Boyd Haley, PhD: Vaccine “Science” – Lies, Damned Lies and Shoddy Statistics
[9] Paul J. King, PhD: Mercury Murder
[10] Brian Hooker, PhD: Vaccine Lies to Build a New World Order

[11] Panel Round Table
[12] Q and A
[13] Conclusion: Genome Optimization Therapies: Think Globally; Restore Locally – Dr. Rima

I took the liberty of bolding the talks from people who may be best known to readers here. Boyd Haley is not heard from as much anymore, but he was very vocal during in the past decade promoting the idea that mercury in vaccines was responsible for the rise in diagnoses. He coined the phrase “Mad Child Disease” for autism. Nice, huh? Then there is Paul King with “Mercury Murder”. As I’ve noted, Mr. King is a member of CoMeD, an organization run with Mark and David Geier, the father-son team known for bad research, bad medicine and unethical behavior. Brian Hooker is an autism parent and long-time member of the “mercury militia” who appears to have splintered from the “mainstream” mercury groups and is possibly best known online for claiming that documents he has obtained through FOIA requests and other routes “prove” that the CDC and other orgs are covering up the claimed harm from vaccines.

The titles of those talks are a bit extreme, to be sure. And we have the webinar “trailer above” showing this to be a very fringe event. Of the talks, I can find only one online: Mr. Hooker’s talk is on YouTube. It’s long (about 40 minutes).

The first thing you may note that the title is different than the one in the schedule. Instead of “Vaccine Lies to Build a New World Order” we get “The CDC, Ground Zero for the decline of children in the United States.” Complete with mushroom cloud icon, just in case we didn’t get the meaning of “ground zero”. He pulls no punches, telling us that in his opinion there is a level of “voluntary manslaughter and murder” within the CDC. He calls the federal government “the hub of autism creation” with President Obama and the Gates Foundation exporting autism to other countries with mercury containing vaccines. He claims that every study showing vaccines don’t cause autism is statistically flawed. Except, of course, for those points he wants to cherry pick to support his argument. For those the statistics are valid. Instead of his toned down talk he prepared for the Committee on Congressional Oversight and Reform, here we hear all about how the CDC and the HHS are committing genocide.

There is a lot of discussion towards the end about how vaccines are being intentionally used to create a cheap workforce, what the promoters of the webinar call a “delta workers” (think Brave New World). It’s a favorite theme of the group hosting the webinar.

Autism-Inside-Job-Final[1]

With the subtitle “Depopulation, Delta Worker Drones and Autism Eugenicide”

At the end of the presentation we hear this exchange between Mr. Hooker and the host of the webinar:

Host: I’m thrilled to have you as a colleague and a fellow advocate for an end to vaccination.

Brian Hooker: Thank you and god bless you both, I really appreciate it.

Perhaps Mr. Hooker felt that it would be impolite to correct the host in her assertion that he is a “fellow advocate for an end to vaccination”. Perhaps not.

The webinar was made into an eBook. Boyd Haley’s talk changed to a “special message” entitled “CDC/NIH/IOM ABANDON SCIENCE!”. The title for Paul King’s contribution is “Mercury Madness” rather than “Mercury Murder”. And the title for Brian Hooker is “CDC: Ground Zero” rather than “Vaccine Lies to Build a New World Order”.

The “Educational Value” of the eBook is given as:

At the conclusion of this webinar, the participant will be able to discern whether vaccines are used because of the neurological damage they produce or in spite of it, leading to more informed vaccine choices for themselves and those they impact.

Yes, you’ve already heard this message. They think that vaccines are not only causing autism, but that this is an intentional effort by the government.

It would be easy to mock this webinar and the participants. It is very, very fringe. But it isn’t funny. It’s irresponsible.

I’d ask why the hell are Boyd Haley, Paul King and Brian Hooker lending their names to this irresponsible effort, but Mr. Hooker’s presentation makes it very clear. He’s not duped or fooled. He’s complicit[see below]. We can’t say for certain about Mr. Haley or Mr. King, but it’s not as though the message on that website is subtle or hidden.

No, this is no where near funny. For anyone who has read the damage these messages have caused within the autism communities knows: there’s zero humor in this nonsense.

Edit to add: Mr. Hooker has contacted me and informed me that he is not a 9/11 truther.

By Matt Carey

A cause célèbre for those claiming vaccines cause autism

1 Mar

If you participate in online discussions about autism and vaccines (and I’d advise you to spend your time more productively), you will often hear about how the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the “Vaccine Court”) has compensated numerous cases of autism, the government just doesn’t admit it. These are often referred to as “secret” compensations, even though the decisions are in the public record. And, quite frankly, the families were not compensated for autism claims.

One family whose story has become a cause célèbre thanks to David Kirby is now the topic of a new Court decision. In this new decision, the court responds to the parents request to have past court documents redacted. They would like to stop being approached by members of the media.

Before we get to the new decision, consider Mr. Kirby’s story:

The parents, who did not want to be interviewed, specifically asserted that [child] “suffered a Vaccine Table Injury, namely, an encephalopathy” as a result of his MMR vaccination on December 19, 2003.” (“Table injuries” are known, compensable adverse reactions to immunizations.)

Alternatively, they claim that “as a cumulative result of his receipt of each and every vaccination between March 25, 2003 and February 22, 2005, [child] has suffered . . . neuroimmunologically mediated dysfunctions in the form of asthma and ASD.”

(child’s name redacted by me)

The parents didn’t want to be interviewed. They also presented two claims, one encephalopathy and one autism. Mr. Kirby focused on the autism claim, even though it wasn’t compensated. Mr. Kirby states:

Whether HHS agreed with [child]‘s parents that his vaccine-induced brain disease led to ASD is unknown. The concession document is under seal.

Actually, it was known. The proffer of an award was titled “Proffer on Award of Compensation; Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR); Table Injury; Encephalitis.”

The child was being compensated for a table injury: encephalitis. Within that document, it is clearly stated:

On June 9, 2011, respondent filed a supplemental report pursuant to Vaccine Rule 4(c) stating it was respondent’s view that Ryan suffered a Table injury under the Vaccine Act – namely, an encephalitis within five to fifteen days following receipt of the December 19, 2003 MMR vaccine, see 42 C.F.R. § 100.3(a)(III)(B), and that this case is appropriate for compensation under the terms of the Vaccine Program

Emphasis mine.

Even with this information showing the family were not compensating autism clearly in the public domain Mr. Kirby tells us it’s “unknown”. Then, true to Mr. Kirby’s style, he leads his readers to the evidence supporting the possibility that it was ASD while never coming right out and saying it.

Perhaps the feds were loath to concede yet another vaccine case involving autism. Four cases in the Autism Omnibus Proceedings were recently compensated. Three of those cases are marked with asterisks, indicating the government did not conclude that autism can be caused by vaccines. But the fourth autism case that was paid out in 2013 ([child]‘s case? We don’t know) has no such caveat.

Mr. Kirby was referring to the HRSA statistics page that lists vaccine court petitions filed and compensated. At the time Mr. Kirby wrote his piece, the statistics report did include autism cases. They no longer do, so you have to check archived pages to see what he’s referring to.

At the time of Mr. Kirby’s article, there appear to have been two cases where someone in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding did receive compensation (I don’t have reason to believe Mr. Kirby was in error, but the archived page doesn’t show four cases). Both of those cases had asterisks.

*May include case(s) that were originally filed and processed as an OAP cases but in which the final adjudication does not include a finding of vaccine-related autism

Mr. Kirby concluded with:

Meanwhile, as HHS says it “has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination,” it is still underwriting autism treatments such as ABA for children in its vaccine-injury program.

Which basically reads as “the government is making a distinction without a difference”. I.e. the reader comes away with the impression that the government really are compensating autism.

We knew then that these parents didn’t want to talk to the media. They didn’t want to speak with Mr. Kirby, to become his latest cause célèbre. And now we know that they still do not want this attention and we read once again that the case was not compensated for autism. From a recent decision:

“Petitioners have made these requests because they have had the misfortune of being frequently contacted by members of the media who mistakenly believe they were compensated for their alternative autism allegation when Petitioners were actually compensated for a Table Injury encephalopathy.”

Given the family’s clear intent to get out of the public’s eye, I am hesitant to put this article out. But perhaps, just perhaps, some of those using this family as part of their constant fight to keep the autism/vaccine idea alive might reconsider.


By Matt Carey

Comment on: Wrong About Vaccine Safety: A Review of Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard”

23 Jan

Andrew Wakefield has been discussed here and elsewhere a great deal. Thankfully his presence in the autism communities seems to have retreated to a small core of supporters and the occasional parent convention where he can, yet again, defend himself. Yes, his supporters are vocal. And, yes, he continues to cause harm. But his heyday is long past.

Mr. Wakfield was stripped of his medical license after an extremely lengthy hearing. Mr. Wakefield chose to not present evidence at the hearing, chose not to appeal the decision and has, instead, offered up his defense in a book: “Callous Disregard”. Callous Disregard has been discussed online multiple times.

Mr. Wakefield and his supporters tend to make sciency appearing defenses of him. For example, there are claims that his work has multiple independent replications in various countries. If one checks the references used to make that claim, one finds the claim is, well, false. Citations in “Callous Disregard” often do not support the arguments Mr. Wakefield is making. But few people have the time to go through his prose, much less his references.

One gentleman has taken on that task. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, has published a paper: Wrong About Vaccine Safety: A Review of Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard” in which he debunks the main claims in “Callous Disregard”. Here is the abstract:

Abstract: On February 28, 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published an article in the Lancet on 12 children “with a history of pervasive developmental disorder and intestinal symptoms. Onset of behavioral symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children.” Though not claiming the MMR vaccine caused the symptoms, adding what parents thought certainly raised the possibility. Statements and articles by Wakefield suggested he believed such a link probable. Vaccination rates plummeted in the UK and outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases followed. Investigative journalist Brian Deer uncovered dishonest and unethical medical practices by Wakefield, resulting in Wakefield losing his medical license. Rather than appeal the decision, Wakefield wrote a book, “Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy,” wherein he claims loss of his license was a political attempt to silence his criticism of vaccine safety. This paper examines the validity of Wakefield’s claims. A careful review of publicly available information makes it clear that Wakefield’s claims regarding vaccine safety are wrong. It is hoped that this review will be used by doctors and public health personnel to encourage parents hesitating to have their children vaccinated to question anti-vaccination claims in general, given that many proponents often refer to Wakefield as an authority and display in their own writings and pronouncements similar erroneous claims.

The paper is 17 pages as published and includes 142 references. His conclusion is quite strong, and includes this paragraph:

I have shown that every major claim Wakefield makes in his book concerning vaccine safety is wrong. I have given accurate quotes from both Wakefield’s book and sources that contradict his claims, including those he misquotes. Based on the old adage, “trust but verify,” where possible I have given the URLs to many of the documents and articles referred to in this paper. My hope is that those who take the time to check will realize that Wakefield’s claims regarding vaccine safety are not only wrong but also harmful, and that once this is realized, people will read Deer’s articles [3] and the British Medical Council’s findings [1,2] with an open mind.

How does he back up such a strong conclusion? Consider this point he makes in his summary (which is discussed at length in the paper)

Wakefield claims that a leading Swedish vaccine researcher, Dr. Christenson, told him that vaccine safety studies had not been carried out in Sweden; yet, gives references to two Swedish papers that extensively report on vaccine safety studies in Sweden, one of them coauthored by Dr. Christenson.

Yes, once again, we see Mr. Wakefield claiming something which the very references he uses show the opposite.

Consider Mr. Wakefield’s stance on the Urabe-strain containing mumps vaccine (a component of the MMR used for some time in the UK). Mr. Wakefield ignored the Urabe vaccine during his time as an expert for the MMR litigation in the UK but has more recently taken the story up as some sort of defense of himself. If that sounds confusing, it really isn’t. Mr. Wakefield thinks we all will just forget that he pushed his own pet theory 15 years ago and just listen to the fearful message he gives now.

Dr. Harrison states:

“Wakefield claims that the Urabe mumps strain contained in the MMR vaccine used in the UK starting in 1988 had been approved after the Canadians withdrew it. Not True.”

Yes, the UK didn’t approve the Urabe Strain vaccine after Canada withdrew it.

Canada licensed Trivirix in May 1986 [57]. The starting date for the UK for MMR vaccinations was October 1, 1988 [58,59]. The license for Trivirix was withdrawn in Canada in May 1990 stating: “Recent laboratory findings from the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan have provided sound evidence. . . In addition, the report states: “The infection follows the course of benign aseptic meningitis” [60]. The UK withdrew the Urabe-containing vaccine on September 14, 1992 [61].

Dr. Harrison also goes to great length to discuss how Mr. Wakefield’s characterization of the Urabe strain vaccine is inaccurate–painting a story of a dangerous vaccine where the evidence does not support this argument.

So Wakefield carried out an incorrect statistical analysis, claimed the authors combined the data when they did not, and incorrectly gave a shorter follow-up time. All of these inaccuracies move evidence from showing safety to showing possible harm.

Dr. Harrison concludes the paper with:

The only conclusion that can be reached from this review is that the title of Wakefield’s book is incomplete. It should read: “Andrew Wakefield’s Callous Disregard for the Facts.”

A rather bold statement given Mr. Wakefield’s litigious nature, having brought suit against the BMJ and Brian Deer and threatening an autism charity with legal action.

Mr. Wakefield’s supporters will likely ignore this lengthy takedown. Mr. Wakefield is dishonest. He lies. And the sad thing is that people believe him.


By Matt Carey

note: minor edits were made after this article was published

A vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study and, guess what, vaccinated kids do better on tests

22 Jan

One statement people make a lot on the internet is “where’s a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations?” Well, here’s one: The effect of vaccination on children’s physical and cognitive development in the Philippines.

When comparisons between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations are proposed, we usually think of the U.S. and trying to work with the small unvaccinated population in a larger vaccinated population. Here we see the reverse: a smaller vaccinated population in a majority unvaccinated population.

What did they find? Here’s the abstract:

We use data from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS) in the Philippines to link vaccination in the first 2 years of life with later physical and cognitive development in children. We use propensity score matching to estimate the causal effect of vaccination on child development. We find no effect of vaccination on later height or
weight, but full childhood vaccination for measles, polio, Tuberculosis (TB), Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) significantly increases cognitive test scores relative to matched children who received no
vaccinations. The size of the effect is large, raising test scores, on average, by about half an SD.

That’s right. Test scores are increased in the vaccinated population. Higher. They did better.

The study highlights many of the difficulties in doing a vaccinated/unvaccinated population comparison: how to control for confounds. The population that choses the minority approach, be it vaccinating (in the Philippines) or not vaccinating (as in the U.S.) are likely different in other respects as well. Small sample sizes also a limitation. The authors acknoweldge this:

While our results are statistically significant, the sample size is relatively small due to the restriction of the sample to the common support. In addition, the matching of treatment and control groups may be imperfect if there are unobserved confounding factors that affect both vaccination and cognitive development. We therefore do not see our results as definitive. However, the results do however highlight the potential significance of vaccination as a human capital investment and suggest that further research in this area is warranted.

So, let’s consider this question: if there is a real correlation, is it the vaccination itself (unlikely in my opinion) or preventing the diseases (much more likely)? Since as I’ve indicated, I tend towards the latter explanation, let’s consider this: another effect of herd immunity might be cognitive. Since my family and the vast majority of families in the U.S. vaccinate, many diseases are not seen here. Even the unvaccinated are protected.

So, when Jenny McCarthy or others say, “I’d take measles any day over autism”, aside from making the huge mistake of assuming that autism and vaccination are linked, she may be saying “I’d take a half-standard-deviation drop in cognition over vaccination”.

I await the inevitable, “we asked for a comparison of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations, but not that comparison”.


By Matt Carey

Mayer Eisenstein files for bankruptcy…again

22 Jan

Mayer Eisenstein is a go-to person in the vaccines-cause-autism community. He heads a large practice in the Chicago area and claims that his unvaccinated children do not have autism. He also was or is a part of the “Lupron Franchise”—a group of practitioners who took on the Geier idea that shutting down sex hormone production in autistics could be a treatment. It was a profoundly bad idea.

Mayer Eisenstein was the subject of an article in the Chicago Tribune: Autism doctor: Troubling record trails doctor treating autism. From that article:

Yet his suburban Chicago practice, currently known as Homefirst, garnered an alarming record: It was on the losing side of one of the largest U.S. jury verdicts — $30 million — ever awarded to the family of a newborn in a wrongful-death suit.

In court records dating back three decades, the families of dead and brain-damaged children repeatedly alleged that doctors who work for Eisenstein made harmful mistakes — sometimes the same error more than once. His practice also has been dogged by accusations in court records that its offshore malpractice policy was phony.

After the $30M verdict, Mayer Eisenstein filed bankruptcy. Which was not permitted. Again from the article above:

With bankruptcy off the table, a Cook County judge acknowledged the practice’s claim of insolvency, consolidated the $30 million verdict, five remaining malpractice cases and two civil fraud cases and ordered mediation.

Last July, the judge approved a $1.275 million settlement that Homefirst must divide among six families over seven years. Eisenstein’s practice made the first $100,000 payment last September, four months before he opened the autism clinic.

It appears that the $1.275M settlement noted above is the topic of a battle ongoing in the current bankruptcy filing by Dr. Eisenstein. Per the complaint:

The aggregate Settlement Amount of $1,275,000 represents a small fraction of the total of claims by the Personal Injury Plaintiffs, some of which had reached verdict and judgment.

In other words, it appears Mayer Eisenstein wasn’t allowed to avoid payment by filing bankruptcy, but he did reduce the payments dramatically. The settlement also included a payment schedule. The families claim that four annual payments for a total of $430,000 were made, then the payments stopped after 2011. They claimed (as of August 2013):

Installments to Be Paid on or Before: Amount

September 22, 2012 (not paid when due). . . . . . . . . . . . $ 140,000.00

September 22, 2013 (not yet due). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 150,000.00

September 22, 2014 (not yet due). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 160,000.00

September 22, 2015 (not yet due). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 395,000.00

Total due and unpaid and to become due $ 845,000.00

Per the docket, the case was scheduled to go to hearing last month.

In short, it appears that a multiple families were injured by Mayer Eisenstein and/or member of his practice. They sought and were granted damages, only to have Dr. Eisenstein negotiate those down in a 2004 bankruptcy filing. Dr. Eisenstein made some payments, but then stopped. And he now appears to be trying to avoid further payments as part of his new bankruptcy filing, which the families are fighting. Again.

Why, one might ask, didn’t the families get some secutity pledged to cover the settlement should Dr. Eisenstien stop payments? Seems a reasonable thing to do. The answer is they did. It appears that the property he pledged as security was not under Mayer Eisenstien’s control. In other words, when the families sought to get the property in lieu of the payments, they found that Dr. Eisenstein (who holds a law degree in addition to his medical credentials) couldn’t directly hand it over.

The records of the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois disclose the following transactions for the property at 1101 Dodge, Evanston, Illinois, PIN 10-24-

208-032-0000:

(a) Karen Eisenstein (Mayer Eisenstein, M.D.’s spouse) took title by a deed recorded on April 29, 2002 as document number 0020384408.

(b) Karen Eisenstein transferred title to North Star Trust Co. Tr. # 36189 by a deed in trust recorded on June 11, 2003 as document number 0316239026.

25. Paragraph 6 of the Circuit Court order of July 12, 2008 further provides:

“6. Plaintiffs are to have secured creditor status in the event of an applicable bankruptcy filing.”

So, it would appear that Mayer Eisenstein pledged a property as security for the settlement—a property which he had transferred to his wife in 2002 and which she had transferred to a trust company, in 2003. In other words, to this layman, it appears that at the time he put the property up, it was effectively shielded from actually being used as security.

Another question that one would reasonably ask is why weren’t these claims paid by malpractice insurance? That gets very convoluted, but the original settlement agreement included the statment

“I. Defendants in this matter affirm that they do not have any liability insurance coverage for any of the claims of the remaining plaintiffs.”


Defendants would be Mayer Eisenstein and his practice. And here is where it gets convoluted. The current complaint states

45. At one of the meetings pursuant to Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code, Mayer Eisenstein, M.D. stated that from time to time he has malpractice insurance to allow him to be on staff at an area hospital.

46. At that same meeting, Mayer Eisenstein, M.D. stated that he did not submit any of the claims to that malpractice insurance carrier, because, as he claimed, if he had the insurance would have been cancelled, and he could no longer use the hospital

47. If Mayer Eisenstein, M.D. had medical malpractice insurance coverage in place at a time when the claims or one or more of the Personal Injury Plaintiffs cases arose, then the
statement was false.

Maybe he didn’t have insurance. Maybe he did and didn’t submit the claims.

Let’s take a look back at the Chicago Tribune article. In addition to discussing the Lupron clinic Dr. Eisenstein set up, it also discusses his history with insurance:

He also dabbled in group health plan sales to Illinois families but tangled with state insurance regulators in the mid- to late 1990s. Regulators warned consumers in a newsletter that Eisenstein “continued to illegally market” the Homefirst Health Plan, based in the British Virgin Islands, even after they told him the plan was ineligible. Despite this, he continued selling the plan, records show, and they ordered him to “cease and desist.”

In an interview, Eisenstein said he was offering a “fraternal health plan,” not traditional health insurance, so he said he didn’t have to listen to regulators. He no longer sells health plans.

And, later:

After Nathan Howey’s death, Weiss Hospital sued Homefirst, Rosi and Eisenstein for fraud, alleging they misrepresented their Caribbean-based malpractice policy. Eisenstein testified that he was in St. Kitts helping one of his daughters, a veterinary student there, buy a condo when the lawyer who helped arrange the sale told Eisenstein he also sold malpractice insurance.
“I was tickled pink to get insurance,” he said under oath.

A Cook County judge called it an “improperly underwritten insurance plan.” Eisenstein, who says the policy is legitimate, agreed to pay Weiss $50,000 after mediation.

Yes, “tickled pink” to get insurance. From a Caribbean island real estate/insurance salesman.

For those interested, here are some of the documents from the case discussed above.

Case 13-01050, lawsuit

Exhibit A

Exhibit B


By Matt Carey

Jenny’s McCarthy’s vaccine narrative called into question

16 Jan

Jenny McCarthy is the face of vaccine rejectionism in America. The story she tells of how her son, Evan, became autistic after his MMR shot is arguably the origin myth for the anti-vaccine movement, and the legions of  “Warrior Mothers” who follow her. Now, a competing narrative from someone else close to Evan calls the myth into question.

“I have such tremendous guilt for not speaking up when I knew something wasn’t right,” says Joyce Bulifant, Evan’s paternal grandmother. “But I was afraid of Jenny, and didn’t want to be the interfering mother-in-law. I was more concerned about me than taking care of Evan.” She agreed to speak with AutismNewsBeat.

McCarthy’s many critics have pointed to her numerous contradictions. She told Oprah Winfrey, for example, and there is “no doubt in my mind” that the MMR vaccine caused her son Evan’s autism. But she has also written that Evan showed signs of delay by six months – one year before the shot.

“I don’t think she’s very fond of me, but I love her because she is Evan’s mother. It makes me sad that we don’t have a true relationship,” says Bulifant. “That makes me very sad.”

The elf on the shelf

Bulifant is no stranger to Hollywood. The Virginia native has been acting for more than 50 years, and is well known for playing Murray Slaughter’s wife, Marie, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was also a regular on The Match Game, and appeared in Airplane! (1980). She lives in Palm Springs with her fourth husband, actor and composer Roger Perry. Joyce has 15 grandchildren, and they all call her LaLa. When she speaks of Evan, who was born in May, 2002, it’s easy to imagine he is the favorite.

“Evan was here for Thanksgiving, and he left a note on my fridge that I just can’t take down. It reads ‘Dear LaLa, I hope that you love me so much. Thanks, Evan. I love you to the moon and back.

P.S., the Elf is in the freezer with turkey.”

The elf is a small, felt doll that sits on a shelf.

“He used to be afraid of the Elf on the Shelf, but last year he started moving it around the house, hiding it in different places and making it reappear. He said it had magical powers,” says Bulifant. “I love playing magic with him. He’s so very dear. It’s like he has a sixth sense that I don’t have.”

That sixth sense sparks her sense of wonder. “I am dyslexic and so is my son (Evan’s father, John),” she says. “We do compensate when we don’t have all the typical skills. The compensation part fascinates me. T

o me Evan is magical and wonderful and I love him to death.”

Bulifant’s conversation is sprinkled with sweet and simple stories about the boy she loves.  One time at L.A.’s Getty Museum, she said, Bulifant and Evan were throwing quarters into a fountain to make a wish

“I wish you would always love me,” said Evan.

“I wish you would always love me,” she said.

“LaLa, that’s my wish!”

Bulifant said she was concerned about Evan’s months before his first birthday.

“I remember Christmas, 2002 (age seven months). I was bathing him in the sink, and trying to get him to giggle and respond to me, but he seemed detached. My family was a little concerned but I didn’t say anything to Jenny because I know children develop at different times. But I was concerned.”

And then there was the incident in the park, another example of how difficult it is to see autism in a loved one.

“We took him to the park, and he started running away from us. We called, but he didn’t even turn around. We wondered if his hearing was impaired,” sh

e says. “That didn’t seem right. So I was testing him in the car seat on the way home. ‘Where is your nose? Where are your ears?’ I asked Evan. He didn’t respond, and I wondered what was going on. Then, when we pulled up in the driveway, Evan suddenly pointed

to h

is mouth and said ‘mouth’, and then he pointed to his ears and said ‘ears.’ It was like he was saying ‘Silly gramma, I know where my mouth and my ears are!’”

Joyce has been active in dyslexia education and advocacy for years, and she called on her research contacts for help. “By the time Evan was 18 months old, I was convinced he had autism,” she says.

Bulifant was wary of approaching McCarthy, who had written two books by that time that made it clear she didn’t appreciate parenting advice from others.

“She wrote ‘I don’t want anyone telling me what to do as a mother,’” says Bulifant. “I was trying to be a good mother-in-law and a good grandmother at the same time. I don’t think I even said anything to John. Everything I read pointed to autism.”

One day, while John was off directing in North Carolina, and Bulifant was staying at Jenny’s Los Angeles home, the “Good Grandmother” spoke up, and asked the nanny about Evan’s development. The nanny reacted defensively.

“I want to ask you something. Have you noticed that Evan doesn’t always connect with me?“ asked Bulifant.

“Jenny is a wonderful mother and he always connects with me.”

“He does watch a lot of television, ” said Bulifant, “and I’m wondering if that means he’s not used to interacting.”

“Evan is fine and always interacts with me. “

Bulifant retreated. “I thought maybe I was just me being a silly grandmother.”

She and her husband left the house for a few hours, and when they came back nobody was home.

“I was terrified that something had happened to Evan.” Then John called, and said that Jenny was “very upset “about the conversation with the nanny.

“You just can’t say anything about Evan,” John continued. “She gets very upset.” He said McCarthy would not come back home until Bulifant and her husband left the house.

Which they did.

Back home, Bulifant wrote a letter of apology to McCarthy. “Jenny wrote back saying ‘You shouldn’t have said anything to the nanny. You should have said it to me.’ And she was right, I should have. I was just afraid. I didn’t want to be the interfering mother-in-law.

“It was very wrong, and that is something I have to live with,” says Bulifant.

McCarthy has told a similar story:

Others had noticed something different about Evan, too. “My mother-in-law said, ‘He doesn’t really show affection,’ and I threw her out of the house,” Jenny says. “I went to a play gym, and the woman [there] said, ‘Does your son have a brain problem?’ … [I said], ‘How dare you say something about my child? I love him. He’s perfect. You can’t say that about a child.’ I just had no idea.”

Bulifant says that after being “thrown out of the house,” she and McCarthy have only spoken a few times, and for the last two years have communicated only through occasional texts.

Seizures and celebrity

Evan’s autism, and Bulifant’s collision with McCarthy’s “strong personality” created another issue. It’s what she calls her “moral problem” for not speaking up sooner about McCarthy’s well-publicized anti-vaccine views. “I know enough about Evan that if I spoke up sooner, more kids would be vaccinated, and fewer would have died or gotten very sick. We’ve seen cases of measles in Texas, and whooping cough killed ten children in California. It breaks my heart. That’s the biggest moral issue in my whole life,” she says.

Vaccines are at the center of McCarthy’s shifting narrative. In one version she says “the soul was gone from Evan’s eyes” shortly after the boy’s MMR vaccine. Here is what she told Oprah in September, 2007:

“Right before his MMR shot, I said to the doctor, ‘I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘No, that is ridiculous. It is a mother’s desperate attempt to blame something,’ and he swore at me, and then the nurse gave [Evan] the shot,” she says. “And I remember going, ‘Oh, God, I hope he’s right.’ And soon thereafter—boom—the soul’s gone from his eyes.”

McCarthy’s narrative also includes two seizure episodes suffered by Evan, leading to an autism diagnosis. In Belly Laughs, she wrote Evan was diagnosed with a febrile seizure at 2 ½, and three weeks later, he suffered seizures which led to a cardiac arrest, and a diagnosis of epilepsy. By this telling, stereotypical autistic behaviors followed.

Bulifant says the first seizure came in the spring of 2004. Oddly, the news triggered in her a sense of relief.

“I knew that seizures are associated with autism, and that Evan would finally get the diagnosis he needed and finally get help. I wasn’t alarmed.”

The second seizure occurred the evening before Easter Sunday, in Bulifant’s home. “I had an Easter basket for Evan,” she says.

“It was the night before Easter. Evan was so tired that he fell into my arms. I laid him on his bed and took off his shoes and when I looked at him I saw his little eyes rolled into the back of his head. I yelled for John to come quickly. We called 911. John held Evan’s hand and said ‘Don’t worry, you are in a safe place.”

Paramedics arrived. “Jenny was a mess. I now know what ‘wringing you hands mean’, because that’s what I was doing.” The EMTs “bagged” the boy because his breathing was shallow, says Bulifant, then took him to the local emergency room. Jenny rode in the ambulance. Anxious hours followed in the waiting room while doctors stabilized Evan and then allowed family to visit.

Evan’s first words were “Look at that air conditioning vent.”

Jenny and John left Palm Springs with Evan and drove straight to Cedars Sinai Hospital in LA, where he was diagnosed with epilepsy. Joyce felt like screaming – “No, it’s autism!” She had had enough.

“I said to John ‘I now insist that you go to UCLA to see a neurologist.’” By McCarthy’s telling, it took the neurologist 20 minutes to arrive at a diagnosis.

A September, 2007 People Magazine article is typical of how McCarthy tells the story:

This was another seizure, she thought, “but this one is different. He’s not convulsing.” Instead, “foam was coming out of his mouth, (and) and after a few minutes, I felt his heart stop,” she said.

When the paramedics arrived, she told them about Evan’s heart. “They looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t know why,” she said. Only, as they discovered for themselves, the child’s heart was no longer beating, so they administered CPR.

“Why, God? Why me … Why? Why? Why?” McCarthy recalled thinking in those desperate moments, but then, she said, an inner voice came over her. “Everything’s going to come out okay.”

Because there was no pediatric hospital near her parents’ home, Evan and McCarthy drove three hours back to Los Angeles, during which time Evan suffered several more seizures.

Dramatic effect

Another unfortunate dimension to McCarthy’s assault on children’s health is her endorsement of unproven, costly, and potentially harmful alternative therapies for autism. She is front and center at the annual AutismOne conference, where speakers have recommended bleach enemas and chemical castration. Her charitable foundation, Generation Rescue, actively promotes  “a wealth of biomedical therapies that treat the underlying issues of autism inside the body.” These include chelation, hyperbaric oxygen, anti-fungals, anti-virals, and cannabis.

When asked what she thinks of the autism cure industry that Jenny has captained, Bulifant demurs. “I think there is value in eating right and exercise for all children,” she says, her voice trailing off.

But what about telling autistic children they are vaccine injured, or that the soul has been sucked from their eyes? Jenny and her angry mob, as she has called her followers, regularly describe their children as train wrecks, zombies, and worse.

“Jenny says things for dramatic effect,” says Bulifant “I don’t understand that type of thinking. Evan is incredible. One of our favorite things to do is to go looking for lizards. He spots them where I can never see them. I ask him ‘How did you even begin to see that?’”

Still, Bulifant doesn’t hesitate to describe McCarthy as “a very good mother, very caring and trying to do the best for Evan,” adding “I don’t know why she says those things.” She describes her son as good father, and regrets how John has been portrayed as distant and uncaring.

“John never spoke up when Jenny said unkind things about him. I asked him why, and he said it would turn into another ‘Hollywood he said – she said’, and that he wanted to be a gentleman about it, and didn’t want to hurt Evan.”

Does she worry that Evan may one day think he lost his soul to autism?

“I hope that Evan never realizes the things have been said about him. I just don’t want him to ever be hurt. I don’t know if he will ever realize what has been said about him. I hope not.”

Bulifant tries to expose her magical grandson to the arts whenever possible. “I took him to see Billy Elliot, and he loved that. His little mind is working all the time. ”But those bonding opportunities have dwindled since McCarthy moved to the Chicago suburb of Geneva last year. Now, Bulifant watches The View to see new pictures of Evan, and to hear the latest stories.

She says Jenny is doing well on The View.

_____________________

Update from Joyce Bulifant:
I understand and have great empathy for parents of autistic children who want to know the reason for their children’s autism. They understandably latch onto anything they can find as a reason. That might be what Jenny did when Dr. Wakefield gave incorrect information about vaccines. I don’t think she did this maliciously. She just needed a reason.
If people know Evan showed signs of autism before his MMR vaccine, parents wouldn’t be afraid to vaccinate their children, thereby saving lives and much suffering.

Geiers lose case against PSC

20 Oct

The attorneys for the families in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP, the class-action type hearings held in the “vaccine court”) were grouped into the “Petitioner’s Steering Committee” (PSC). The PSC hired experts to help their case. Mark and David Geier did not serve as experts on the OAP but felt that they deserved compensation. $600,000 in compensation. Nearly 10% of the total costs for the OAP.

Thanks to Left Brain/Right Brain commenter Anne, we now know the Geiers lost this suit.

The Geiers presented eight counts, and failed to make them stick

Count I — Breach of Contract;
Count II — Joint Venturer Liability for Breach of Contract;
Count III — Ratification;
Count IV — Implied Contract;
Count V — Unjust Enrichment;
Count VI — Joint and Several Liability for Professional Negligence (Malpractice);
Count VII — Civil Conspiracy for Fraud; and
Count VIII — Breach of Implied Warranty.

Here are some excerpts from the decision:

In sum, the Geiers have failed to present a factual basis for the Court’s exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over the Law Firms

Even if the Court has personal jurisdiction over the Law Firms due to their continuous and systematic contacts with the District of Columbia, it is necessary to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim.

The Geiers’ malpractice claim is based on the disingenuous assertion that the agreement to assist the Geiers in petitioning the Vaccine Court for fee payment created an attorney-client relationship between the Geiers and the Law Firms. This allegation is not “plausible on its face.”

The Geiers’ civil conspiracy allegations are threadbare accusations that fail to state a claim, see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, let alone meet the heightened pleading standard required by Rule 9(b).

One does wonder where the future lies for the Geiers. Mark Geier (the father and doctor of the team) is 65 and could retire. David Geier (the son who holds a B.A.) is a bit young for retirement. Mark Geier’s medical licenses have been suspended. The Special Masters in the vaccine court have made it clear that neither Geier is qualified to act as an expert or a consultant. And, now, the Geiers have burned bridges with many of the attorneys in the vaccine court. I’ve heard that the Geier address in Florida is registered as a mail order pharmacy.


By Matt Carey

Looking back at two decades of Geier

20 Oct

In the past Mark and (to a lesser extent) his son David Geier were frequently being discussed online. It struck me that given how far back the Geier saga goes, many may not be aware of the myriad stories of the Geiers. How often and from how many angles the news has come about just how bad the Geier legacy is. They’ve been involved in the vaccine court (and from the outset–1993–showing “intellectual dishonesty“), publishing questionable research and running a clinic whose special “therapy” is so clearly wrong.

I went back to an article I wrote in 2007 where a Special Master (the judge in the “vaccine court”) wrote that the Geiers’ work was of such poor quality that the court would no longer pay for them to act as experts. I was going to just re-run that article (and it is copied in full below) when I thought it worthwhile to list some of the more notable actions of the Geier team.

The best writing on the Geiers was done by Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity.com (some of the best investigative reporting ever). Unfortunately a server crash took down the site, but one can find the articles on the Wayback Machine (archive.org).

Just a few specific examples:

Maryland Authorities Charge “Lupron Protocol” Promoters With Unprofessional Conduct, Unlicensed Practice of Medicine ·

Significant Misrepresentations: Mark Geier, David Geier & the Evolution of the Lupron Protocol

A Silent Withdrawal (details behind the withdrawal of a Geier paper).

The withdrawal followed and was likely caused by Ms. Seidel’s investigations, laid out in this letter to the Journal (autoimmunity reviews) in which she noted (among other facts) that the Geiers actions were questionable from an ethics standpoint. In specific, in regard the their IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for their study:

The Office of Human Research Protection registration of the IRB of the “Institute for Chronic Illnesses” was submitted by Mark Geier in February 2006 — fifteen months after the commencement of the research the Geiers describe in this article, which began in November 2004, the same month in which Dr. Geier testified in court that he had no prior experience in the diagnosis or treatment of autistic children. (13,14) The seven-member IRB consists of Mark and David Geier; Dr. Geier’s wife; two of Dr. Geier’s business associates; and two mothers of autistic children, one of whom has publicly acknowledged that her son is a patient/subject of Dr. Geier, and the other of whom is plaintiff in three pending vaccine-injury claims. The membership of the IRB gives rise to misgivings about the independence of ethical review of Dr. and Mr. Geiers’ research. Every member has discernible conflicts of interest, and none has any discernible expertise in endocrinology — expertise crucial to the competent oversight and conduct of research involving pharmaceutical manipulation of children’s hormones.

Yes, they got “approval” from themselves after they did the research. Just astonishingly bad. Completely circumventing the entire purpose of an IRB.

There’s so much more good work at Neurodiversity.com. But let me switch to articles here at Left Brain/Right Brain:

David Geier ordered to pay $10,000 for practicing medicine without a license

Is Mark Geier finished as an expert witness in the vaccine court? A quote from this vaccine court decision:

I will not likely be inclined to compensate attorneys in any future opinions for consultant work performed by Mark Geier after the publication date of this opinion.

Note that the question is whether to pay Mark Geier as a consultant. This was in 2011, after it was established that he was not an expert and would not be compensated for work as an expert. This didn’t stop attorneys tried to keep him on the payroll as a “consultant”.

How about the Geier theory behind using Lupron to shut down hormone production in autistic kids? It started as a way to enhance chelation. Chelation is without merit in autism treatment to begin with, but the Geiers took it a step further. One of their collaborators, and apparently the parent of one of the first kids to be subjected to the “Lupron Protocol” quoted David Geier as saying, “We figured something new out…..we think we can get rid of the mercury by lowering the testosterone”. The “science” behind the “Lupron Protocol” AutismOne throws their support behind the Geiers in Autism Science Digest is ridiculous. Even the Geiers shifted away from their original theory, leaving out the mercury angle: The Geier Story on Testosterone Shifts Again.

In their research, the Geiers cite Simon Baron-Cohen, whose has worked on the idea that exposure to testosterone in-utero could be a cause of autism. Baron-Cohen’s work had no scientific relevance to the Geier work. But, thankfully, Baron-Cohen was quoted in a news article about the Geiers:

Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in England and director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge, said it is irresponsible to treat autistic children with Lupron.

“The idea of using it with vulnerable children with autism, who do not have a life-threatening disease and pose no danger to anyone, without a careful trial to determine the unwanted side effects or indeed any benefits, fills me with horror,” he said.

Mark Geier lost his medical licenses. Yes, licenses plural. Lost in many states. He had franchised his Lupron work out. It took a cease and desist order issued to make him really stop practicing medicine.

Criticism of Mark Geier’s “expertise” was not limited to the “vaccine court”. In Boyd Haley and Mark Geier: Experts? we see how he failed to meet the standards of an expert in a civil court.

The Geiers’ have done well, financially. Charging over $50k/year, plus over $10k in tests, could do that. Here’s their home in Florida (The Geiers’ Second Home)

As part of the action to strip Mark Geier of his medical license: Maryland Board of Phyicians: Mark Geier “endangers autistic children and exploits their parents”

In Crist backer Gary Kompothecras bullies Florida health officials, we learned that political pressure was being brought to bear to give the Geiers access to Florida’s health records to perform a study.

The Geiers requested over $100,000 for work on the Hepatitis B Omnibus, including multiple trips to Europe. (almost $24k for one trip alone). Much of the request had no documentation (bills, airline tickets, etc.)

Quotes from the special master in the decision in that case:

I found that the articles authored by Dr. Geier unpersuasive and not scientifically sound, based on my prior reading of the articles and critiques of them. I am also aware that Dr. Geier is trained as a geneticist and obstetrician, not an immunologist, epidemiologist, or rheumatologist, and that my fellow special masters and several other judges have opined unfavorably on his qualifications and testimony as an expert.

and, in regards to David Geier (who holds no advanced degrees):

“In summary, the undersigned finds the costs for David Geier’s efforts to be obviously unreasonable as Mr. Geier is not qualified to address the medical issues involved in the Program and his work was duplicative of the efforts by Dr. Geier. Thus, the undersigned denies the request for costs for David Geier in its entirety.”

The egregious billing activities of the Geiers amount to treating the vaccine program as their personal piggy bank, in my opinion.

In the courts, in their research and in their clinics, the Geiers have time and again shown behavior which is just reprehensible.

Below is the article I wrote in 2007 which prompted this summary: For your own good, don’t use that study!.

____________________________________________

I just read something interesting on the web.  Someone was telling a petitioner in a Vaccine Court trial that she would have a better chance of winning if her expert witness didn’t use a research report by the Geiers.

Was this a blog?  Was this a yahoo group?  Nope, this was a decision on the Vaccine Court’s website.  This was the opinion of Special Master Vowell.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she is one of the three Special Masters working on the Autism Omnibus Proceedings.  What exactly did she say?

“I suggested that, in view of the criticisms leveled at Dr. Geier and his research, petitioner would be better served if her expert could opine favorably at the hearing without relying on the cited articles. “

and

“In attempting to assist this petitioner in presenting the strongest possible case for vaccine causation of her illness, I urged her counsel to caution her expert against relying on the Geier articles he cited.”

Ouch.

In case you were wondering, I wasn’t just reading the Vaccine Court decisions for fun.   I was prompted by something that Mark Geier said on NightLine.  Dr. Geier made a comment about “Wining” in vaccine court.

This struck me as a very odd statement.  Petitioners (plaintiffs) win.  Lawyers win.  Expert witnesses?  They can help someone win, but I don’t see them as “winning”.  Besides, there was something in the way he said it.  Something like when a kid says, “of course I did my homework” and you know you have to go check.  So, check I did.

I looked through the published and unpublished decisions and searched for “Geier” in each.  These go back to 1997 for published decisions.   “Decisions” include actual cases as well as pre- and post-trial actions.  The one quoted above is a good example of “pretrial”.  Post-trial Decisions are often about whether everyone should get paid what they billed.  Or, at least, this seems to be the case in more recent times.

Not all Decisions are trials.  Keep in mind, a single trial could have multiple Decisions.  I haven’t tried to group them together by case, I just made a list of all of the ones I could find involving Dr. Mark Geier.

With all that out of the way, what did I find?  There are 31 Decisions posted that involve Dr. Geier.  Of those, three are cases “won” where Dr. Geier was involved.  A further 3 may be considered “mixed” or “neutral”.  Figure that in 80% of the cases, the Petitioner and/or Dr. Geier loses.  I consider that a generous take.  It really is more like 90%.

Let’s look at those “winners”.

1999: The petitioner won the case.  “The court’s decision in this case is not based on Dr. Geier’s testimony, but neither will the court discard his testimony as unreliable.”  Not the most ringing endorsement.

2000: The petitioner won the case.  Dr. Geier submitted an affadavit which was used to “buttress” the case made by the expert witness who actually testified.

2006: Discussion of fees where Dr. Geier’s fees and use is found to be reasonable. ” In the instant case, $1562.50 in expert witness fees for Dr. Mark Geier’s services is reasonable.”

Yes, in the last 10 years, those are the “good ones”.   Not impressive.

I have seen people post that somehow the Special Masters are trying to discredit Dr. Geier because he is so effective.  People seem to imply that his recent stances on mercury and autism caused the Government to try to neutralize Dr. Geier. 

With that in mind I looked to see if the tone of the rejections has changed with time.  I didn’t really see that.  Keep in mind that some of the well known comments about Dr. Geier predate all these decisions.  For example, he was called “intellectually dishonest” way back in 1993!

Here is a sampling of quotes from other decisions through the past 10 years:

1997: Dr. Geier’s opinion, which is in an area outside his expertise, was not persuasive to the court.

1998: The court is unpersuaded by the opinions of Drs. Kinsbourne and Geier.

1999: This conclusion itself effectively renders the rest of Dr. Geier’s theory useless to petitioner in this case.

2002: “First of all, Dr. Geier is wholly unqualified to testify concerning the two major issues in this case”

2003: “Intellectual rigor is missing from Dr. Tornatore’s testimony and the stealth witness Dr. Geier’s submission after trial. “

2004: “He is however a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience”

2005: “The Special Master also noted that Dr. Geier’s opinions have been increasingly criticized in other vaccine cases. See Decision at 5. The Special Master identified seven cases in which Special Masters had rejected the expert opinion offered by Dr. Geier because the opinion related to areas outside Dr. Geier’s areas of education, training and experience.”

2006: This was a question of charges.  Dr. Geier charged $29,350.  In the end, they found $8,520 was reasonable.  It was  found that he was (1) not qualified as an expert, (2) charging for work on his own publications and (3) charging for time spent working in a related civil case.

“Since Dr. Geier did not possess the necessary expertise to testify in this case, the Court will reduce his hourly rate from $250.00/hour to $200.00/hour. Petitioner will not be compensated for costs that can be directly attributed to Dr. Geier’s original publications, attorney/lawyer consultations, and physician consultations. Additionally, the work billed for petitioner’s civil cases is not compensable.”

2007: Again Dr. Geier’s payment is cut. 

“For the reasons stated above, the undersigned finds 13.5 hours to be excessive. Dr. Geier  will be compensated for only those hours that are reasonable. Based on the undersigned’s experience with the Vaccine Program, Dr. Geier will be awarded compensation for five hours of  his time which is a reasonable, indeed generous, number of hours for a literature search and review of articles. “

Again, that is just a sampling,  No attempt was made to be random.  The tone has been increasing against Dr. Geier, though.  As noted in 2005, “The Special Master also noted that Dr. Geier’s opinions have been increasingly criticized in other vaccine cases”.  So it is increasing.  But that is only increasing by going from Bad to Worse. 

You are welcome to go through the decisions and see if I have been quote mining.  One thing you will see is the possible reason why the Special Master has started warning petitioners to avoid Dr. Geier’s studies.  There are statements to the effect of, “If I had known Dr. Geier was useless as an expert witness, I would have hired someone else”.

Sounds like good advice. 

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