Inside Autism: Dr. Paul Offit responds

5 Aug

I figured I was pretty well done with the Paul Offit/CBS story.  But, I think anyone who has been following these posts would like to read Dr. Paul Offit responds, on the Inside Autism blog.

I’m glad someone else approached him for a discussion of this.

I’ll pull just a couple of points out:

Dr. Offit explains that he did supply CBS news with information including

* The sources and amounts of every grant he has received since 1980;

* The details of his relationship, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s relationship, with pharmaceutical company Merck. Offit co-invented a Rotavirus vaccine that is manufactured by Merck. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Offit said, holds the patent.

* The details of every talk he has given for the past three years. CBS asked for the past 28 years, but Offit said he hasn’t saved that information.

He notes that a followup email from Sharyl Attkisson stated:

You’re clearly hiding something and you need to be straightforward, the public has a right to know who its advisers are

Nope. No bias there.

I can fully understand why Dr. Offit declined the interview.

The story closes with a statement about why he keeps talking about vaccines:

“You’re asking me the question I spend the most time thinking about: Should I still be doing this? I’m just going to do it until people stop listening. It’s the thing I struggle with the most, and I think it’s unfair.

Well, if he looks at the last week of blogging here, he will see that at least this person is listening.

I hope people are listening in September.

6 Responses to “Inside Autism: Dr. Paul Offit responds”

  1. Another Voice August 5, 2008 at 01:20 #

    I have no idea of what happened to CBS; it certainly wasn’t good.

  2. Joseph August 5, 2008 at 03:42 #

    You’re clearly hiding something

    Did anybody else burst out laughing when you read that?

    Actually, wasn’t Sharyl Attkisson hiding something when she stated Dr. Offit had declined to be interviewed or some such?

  3. Schwartz August 5, 2008 at 04:03 #

    Sullivan,

    He does contradict himself twice. He states later in the interview that the facts were relatively correct, but it was the tone he objected to.

    Earlier he states that CBS lied. I could not find any lies when looking through both the CBS article or his response. They seemed quite consistent except in tone.

    The other inconsistency is that he states: “Do we ever hide information? Of course not. I have declared my potential conflicts of interest regarding my relationships with Merck on the development of the Rotavirus vaccine ever since I was on the (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) starting in 1998.” Little oversight there. It’s well documented that he broke the COI guidelines by not fully disclosing the details of his COI’s as was required when he joined the ACIP.

    I can’t blame him for declining the interview, but he now has deal with the predictable suspicion it creates as a result.

    I also note that he does not state anywhere that he no longer has any conflicts of interest.

    He also states: “He says all the information CBS included about him was provided by him.” Does that mean that the small descrepency in numbers and patent wording were his?

  4. Sullivan August 5, 2008 at 04:26 #

    Schwarz, you are truly reaching, man.

    If you want to be really technical about whether the sins of omission by CBS were lies or not, well, have fun. How about the fact that they stated his endowed chair was $1.5M, when it is $2M? Man, they say autistics are literal minded.

    He noted his conflicts due to the Rotavirus vaccine work at every ACIP meeting. Do you think that anyone there needed to be reminded anyway?

    I can’t blame him for declining the interview, but he now has deal with the predictable suspicion it creates as a result.

    And I can blame those who try to exploit that to create suspicion, right? Because, in the end, that sucks.

    And now the stretch for the brass ring.

    He also states: “He says all the information CBS included about him was provided by him.” Does that mean that the small descrepency in numbers and patent wording were his?

    Just like Joseph laughed at the Sharyl Attkisson quote, I busted out a bit on that one.

    There’s just so much humourous in that little bit.

    Schwartz, you are one of a kind.

    We can hope, at least.

  5. Schwartz August 5, 2008 at 04:48 #

    Sullivan,

    “If you want to be really technical about whether the sins of omission by CBS were lies or not, well, have fun. ”

    Sullivan, most of your posts on this topic are dealing with technicalities. Easy on the righteous indignation.

    By that loose definition of your, Dr. Offit lied in his response by ommiting his publically documented violation of the COI guidelines. I don’t consider it a lie, as I didn’t consider the CBS piece a lie either.

    “He noted his conflicts due to the Rotavirus vaccine work at every ACIP meeting. Do you think that anyone there needed to be reminded anyway?”

    The meeting were not the main point. Upon initial acceptance into the ACIP he was specifically required to document details about his conflicts of interest over some nominal amounts of something like $1000.00. He did not declare any details, only that he was inventor on a patent for a Rotavirus vaccine. Documentation is there for people NOT at the meeting to review.

    Again for those who claim full disclosure is important, you’re really glossing over this. You still don’t know today the details about his financial interest in the vaccine because he didn’t file the documentation.

    “And I can blame those who try to exploit that to create suspicion, right? Because, in the end, that sucks.”

    Perhaps yes. But if he truely believed that he can still act as an independent objective advisor in front of the public (as he stated), then he made the wrong decision. I honestly don’t see how it could have been any worse. Now the data he provided still makes the point, and his silence provides room for speculation. Not a smart PR move.

    “There’s just so much humourous in that little bit.”

    I think it was funny too although I kind of wonder if he provided the 1.5M number and CBS was just too lazy to understand the detailed breakdown or implications.

    On the serious side, you didn’t address the fact that he didn’t state he had no current conflicts of interest as you assert. His wording was not clear on whether he still shared licensing revenue. I would have thought that if he no longer had any COI’s then he surely would have said so given that he wants to remain a trusted public advisor.

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    […] Peet, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Bumpers, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Paul Offit (holder of several vaccine patents), and a mom of a child with […]

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