Legal Bombshell in Autism Omnibus Proceeding!

17 Jul

This is a Guest Blogged piece, written by a beloved legal expert – Clem Heckenberry.

In what can only be described as a legal bombshell, the Petitioners in the Autism Omnibus hearings seemingly withdrew four of its highest profile experts to support the various claims that say that vaccines cause autism. The experts are James B Adams, Mark Robin Geier, Boyd E Haley and Andrew J Wakefield. The ‘New’ experts are those we recognise from the testimony offered thus far. Indeed, this reporter can find no further mention of Adams, Geier, Haley or Wakefield as expert witnesses for the petitioners.

If this case was in the civil arena, the withdrawal of four experts of such magnitude would in all likelihood result in sanctions, a directed verdict or the total failure of the case as in the time Jeff Bradstreet (another expert for the petitioners) left his clients high and dry. There’s no way to spin this as a positive development for the petitioners.

Drs. Adams, Geier, Haley and Wakefield were apparently unwilling or unable to testify about the substance of their beliefs and ‘science, leaving only the report and testimony of Dr. Asphosian, a scientist who has not devoted significant time to the question of mercury and autism. (At one point in his career it’s alleged that Dr. Asphosian claimed that the argument that ‘the dose makes the poison’ was wrong.)

I spoke with various people about this development and they also agreed that this was knocking out some of the petitioners strongest pillars that autism is related to thimerosal or MMR. All those I talked to considered it difficult to underestimate the near-hilarious reputation of these four experts in the field of autism. Their apparent unwillingness to testify on these matters suggests they cannot sustain their previous assertion that thimerosal or MMR has anything to do with autism.

Although the parties are continuing to submit motions and it appears unlikely that there will be a decision this summer, the withdrawal of these experts are likely to have profound consequences.

UPDATE: There’s a good chance this might be satire, although the facts are true..

3 Responses to “Legal Bombshell in Autism Omnibus Proceeding!”

  1. Roulette July 17, 2008 at 10:14 #

    These are some other experts who have been on tap to testify in the omnibus hearing Mr. Heckenberry, but they weren’t called, either.
    -Harland Austin D. Sc.
    -David S Baskin MD
    -M. Eric Gershwin MD
    -Phillippe Grandjean, Ph.D.
    -Robert Hirsch PhD
    -Cathy A Lally, Master P.H.
    -Mary Megson, MD
    I don’t know what it means that the PSC has dropped all these experts or what it means if they all withdrew themselves from offering testimony, but I’m sure it is an ill omen indeed for the hysterical vaccines-autism causation theories.
    If I have accounted correctly that’s 11 who withdrew themselves from the line up or were mysteriously withdrawn by the PSC. No telling what conclusions we might be required to draw from this mass exodus of experts. Perhaps Mr. Heckenberry would like to invoke a rat-and-sinking-ship metaphor?

  2. María Luján July 17, 2008 at 13:23 #

    Toxicol Lett. 2008 Jun 6.
    Dose response considerations in risk assessment-An overview of recent ILSI activities.
    Holsapple MP, Wallace KB.
    International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI), One Thomas Circle, NW, Ninth Floor, Washington, DC 20005-5802, United States.
    This paper will provide some perspective on the role that a consideration of the dose-response has played (past), is playing (present) and will play (future) in human risk assessment with special emphasis on a number of recent activities undertaken by various components of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). The dose-response is a critically important concept in every aspect of biomedical science, including toxicology. A characterization of the dose response has been recognized as one of the four essential components of risk assessment since the release of the NRC/NAS report in 1983, and understanding the dose-response curve is the basis for regulatory toxicology. The introduction of concepts such as hormesis, thresholds of toxicological concern (TTC), and dose-dependent transitions in mechanisms of toxicity have emphasized the complexities associated with a characterization of the dose-response. The transitions to emphasizing predictive toxicology, systems biology, the new ‘omics technologies, and high-throughput screening (HTS) have provided a new vision for toxicity testing. One impact of fully integrating these new concepts and technologies is that we will have unprecedented capabilities to explore the dose-response relationship, especially at low doses. How these new insights into the dose-response will affect our definition of threshold, and our understanding of the distinction between adverse and adaptive effects remain to be determined.

    Several recent reviews [e.g., Calabrese and Baldwin (23)] have pointed out the frequent occurrence of U-shaped dose–response functions in the life sciences. Their shape conflicts with the traditional assumption of direct dose–response relationships. Several possibilities have been offered to account for the shape
    of these functions. Most rely on the concept of hormesis, which asserts that low-level exposures stimulate compensatory processes that, in essence, overshoot and confer an added measure of protection. But the mirror image of hormesis can also prevail, giving rise to a situation in which only high-level exposures invoke compensatory processes. In this instance, low level exposures are more likely than high-level
    exposures to show evidence of adverse effects or, at least, to show them more rapidly. Such phenomena have been observed with endocrine disruptors [e.g., (24)].

    Calabrese EJ, Baldwin LA. U-shaped dose-responses in biology, toxicology, and public health. Annu Rev Public Health 22:15–33 (2001).


  3. Sullivan July 17, 2008 at 18:14 #

    I found it amusing that the title for the initial list of witnesses for the petitioners is a file called:


    Click to access PET%20INITIAL%20EXPERT.pdf

    When my kids are older, we will get them pets. I don’t think a pet Wakefield is likely.

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