Paul Offit explains the money side of the rotavirus vaccine he worked on

14 Sep

Misinformationists love a vacuum. Unfortunately, Dr. Paul Offit left them a big opening by not disclosing how much his hospital, the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), paid him as his share of the royalties from the sale of the rights to his rotavirus vaccine invention.

Dr. Offit invented a rotavirus vaccine, together with CHOP faculty members Dr. Stanley Plotkin and Dr. Fred Clark. This vaccine was commercialized as RotaTeq. CHOP is reported to have been paid $182M, with a net income of $153M.

From that, Doctors Offit, Plotkin and Clark would have been paid an inventor’s share.

In my opinion, it was sufficient for Dr. Offit to acknowledge that it was a significant amount of money.

Mr. Mark Blaxill and Mr. Dan Olmsted of the Age of Autism blog felt differently. They felt it necessary to put an number to Dr. Offit’s royalty payment from CHOP.

Dr. Offit and CHOP declined to respond to their request for information on this subject.

As a point of interest: CHOP didn’t respond to my request, made at that time, either.

In this information vacuum, Misters Blaxill and Olmsted used public information from a scattering of sources to estimate that Dr. Offit was payed between $29M and $55M.

They were off by about a factor of 10.

As noted in a recent post
, I showed how one could easily make an accurate estimate of the royalty payment from that sale, and it was about $6M. Misters Olmsted and Blaxill, who spent a considerable amount of time scouring information from the University of Arkansas to the University of California missed the easily obtainable public information on the CHOP website.

Before I wrote that piece, I contacted Misters Blaxill and Olmsted with the correct information, even including a statement that Dr. Offit had acknowledged that the estimate I came up with was accurate. I was informed that a public statement was necessary by Dr. Offit.

I found this odd because on Sept. 9, a statement by Dr. Offit was reported.

This was originally run on the blog “Countering the Age of Autism” as Paul Offit explains the money side of the rotavirus vaccine he worked on, by David N. Brown, frequent poster to this site and owner of the Evil Possum website.

In an email correspondence with David Brown August 18, 2009, Dr. Paul Offit writes:


CHOP sold its patent for $182 million. This information was made publicly available and was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time. The inventors, Fred Clark, Stan Plotkin, and me split 10 percent of that three ways. This means that we each received about $6 million. It was a ridiculous amont of money and certainly far more than any of us needs, but it is also a far cry from what has been claimed.

But the part that hurts the most is the continued claim that we did this for the money. I don’t know any scientist who does it for the money (you certainly don’t make much in salary). You do it because it’s fun and because you think you can contribute. And the reward for creating a vaccine was also never financial. The reward was watching this vaccine dramatically reduce the incidence of rotavirus hospitalizations in the US and now getting to watch the vaccine enter the developing world in countries like Mali, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ghana, and Nicaragua. That’s why we did it.

It hurts to watch people slander me the way they do. They just don’t know me. Or any of us that work so hard to get a technology like the rotavirus vaccine to the countries where it will save the most lives.


Reprinted with permission from David Brown and Dr. Paul Offit.

28 Responses to “Paul Offit explains the money side of the rotavirus vaccine he worked on”

  1. Jake Crosby September 14, 2009 at 19:50 #

    Paul Offit,

    If you are reading this, I would really appreciate a straightforward answer to the question I sent to you via email.

  2. Sullivan September 14, 2009 at 19:56 #

    Jake Crosby,

    in my experience, Dr. Offit doesn’t read blogs.

    • Sullivan September 14, 2009 at 20:22 #

      I’m aware of that comment, Mr Crosby.

      Can you find a second. I am not aware of any others.

      I am aware that when I have mentioned blogs in emails to Dr. Offit and he was unaware of them. I have been known to bring some to his attention that were particularly bad.

      I don’t expect or have any experience that he reads lbrb.

  3. Joseph September 14, 2009 at 20:33 #

    Dr. Offit was asked to participate in the ScienceBlogs book club about, you know, his book. He kind of had to write a blog post there.

    Not that this matters at all, but Jake’s counter was ridiculous.

    • Sullivan September 14, 2009 at 20:38 #


      There is one comment at RI that I am aware of. I mistakenly assumed Mr. Crosby was referring to that. My error.

      See how easy it is to admit an error?

  4. FreeSpeaker September 15, 2009 at 02:53 #

    The venom and bile loosed at Dr. Offit by the pro-infectious disease merchants of disability and death is utterly astounding. One would think that Dr. Offit is some sort of serial killer who molests children in his spare time.

    These are mean spirited, mentally defective people.

    If I lived in Dr. Offit’s neck of the world, my kids would have been his patients.

    • Sullivan September 15, 2009 at 03:04 #


      I don’t really like using the term “mentally defective”given the history of the term to describe disabled people.

      There is a significant difference between someone with a disability and someone who does use (or misuses) the gifts god gave them.

      As to letting Dr. Offit treat my family, no question. Were we anywhere near Philadelphia and needed an infectious disease doctor, I’d pass other clinics and hospitals to get to CHOP.

  5. FreeSpeaker September 15, 2009 at 03:22 #

    I wonder what brand of axe Crosby has to grind?

  6. John September 15, 2009 at 08:38 #

    Don’t let’s forget the money he takes off Merck

  7. FreeSpeaker September 15, 2009 at 14:13 #

    Sullivan, your point is well taken. I would not want to use a term to describe them which could give them any credence. I should have referred to the term I use on my blog, i.e., the AoA Collective with their mind-numbed drones.

    Now, for John Scudamore’s comment…

    John, I know it is hard for you to understand complicated ideas, but, the “money he [Dr. Offit] takes off Merck” was the topic of Sullivan’s extensive analysis, since Merck makes the RotaTEQ vaccine. Please try to keep up.

  8. passionlessDrone September 15, 2009 at 14:58 #

    OT – but Mr. Offit made mention of the mysteriously absent Autism Diva in his book; as well as the neurodiversity site, if I am not mistaken. So he does know about some blogs. Probably too busy to follow the ins and outs of every posting though.

    – pD

  9. Sullivan September 15, 2009 at 15:43 #


    “mysteriously absent”? Please tell me you aren’t one of those people using the fact that she quit the online world to imply anything.

    It’s no mystery to me that she’s absent. She told me via email ahead of time that she was planning to drop out. I have communicated with her a couple of times since.

    People come and go.

  10. Sullivan September 15, 2009 at 15:50 #


    thanks, we haven’t had a “” link posted in a while.

    I much prefer the levitating dolphins

    Dr. Offit was a consultant to Merck. He helped them develop his invention into an actual product. So what?

    Thanks for that link, though. I forgot about “the voice of Sauron” comment. Your site would be wildly amusing if you weren’t using it to harm public health.

  11. Walter Kyle April 20, 2015 at 19:44 #

    So – it was contaminated with pig viruses (PCV-1 and PCV-2), for at least 15 years. The surprise result came from a screening of several vaccines with a pan microbial detection array developed by Lawrence Livermore Labs (LLMDA) and an emergency meeting at VRBPAC on May 7, 2010. The result of the meeting was that Merck could have discovered the viruses with PCR had they bothered to check and since no one had found the viruses in human diseases (of course no evidence that anyone ever looked) the vaccines were re-approved for use. These porcine viruses cause a chronic wasting disease in piglets.

    In any event Offit`s vaccine was not kosher.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 20, 2015 at 20:19 #

      You are aware that these were virus fragments, right? And that for people who eat pork, these viruses are found in their systems? But that these viruses do not infect people? Right? And add to that the fact that virus fragments can’t cause infections, even in infant pigs?

      1) people are not infant pigs, so the virus is a non issue
      2) the virus was found as fragments, so the virus is a non issue
      3) people ingest this virus all the time with no ill effects, so the virus is a non issue

      you obviously do not understand the nature of the experiment, or you don’t care, if you can make the statement that they could have found them with PCR had they bothered to check. The deep DNA sequencing was a very sensitive and new methodology.

      That said, it does open up an opportunity to talk about a vaccine safety study being ignored by vaccine antagonistic groups. Laura Hewitson’s group found that the porcine (pig) viruses are not present in intestinal tissue:

      So, even with the exposure to virus fragments in the vaccine, no evidence is found for an infection. But I doubt you will bring that up in your future online comments attacking this vaccine.

      • Walter Kyle April 22, 2015 at 09:52 #

        Your derision of the technology patented (Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array –LLMDA) to detect viruses by comparison of selected genetic sequences of `all known pathogens` pretends the detection only found `viral fragments` and extrapolates assurance of the vaccine`s safety since genetic fragments of viruses are not harmful to pigs or humans. The term `viral fragments` misrepresents that other portions of the virus, not sought, were not present.

        The lack of `infectious pathogenic viruses` is irrelevant to the vaccine`s safety although the presence of infectious pathogenic viruses is relevant to safety. Extraneous viral DNA in live viral vaccines may be vectored by the immunogenic vaccine virus to the vaccinee`s chromosome and immortalize cells. NIH secretly terms this vectoring capability of live virus vaccines as `Interdigitation`.

        Criticism that only viral fragments were found belies the underlying concern that long term health problems might arise even after the disappearance of tumorgenesis initiated by viral DNA contaminants and further misses the point.

        Safety of vaccine contaminants can only be determined by clinical analysis of long term disease etiologies present in vaccine recipients, but FDA banned the use of the LLMDA for diagnosing vaccine reactions after relinquishing oversight of vaccine substrates (along with substrate contamination) to the manufacturers at a hastily convened VRBPAC meeting on May 7, 2010.

        One developer commented there that the technology could not only diagnose vaccine reactions, but also predict their occurrence.

        Reports of HIV-1 extracellular assembly and lentivirus virions, those being viruses outside of cells, ability to undergo Natural Endogenous Reverse Transcription – aided by bio-chemicals in sperm and herpes – and avoid host cell defenses, raises the question if other, less studied viruses, such as the porcine circoviruses might possess similar capabilities.

        The supposition that people who eat pork carry such viruses assumes that people would be exposed. Contamination from uncooked pork on counter tops was discussed at VRBPAC, however, no data was introduced to support the conclusion that PCV-1 and PCV-2 was not associated with human disease. What physician would ever order a PCR for such viruses when investigating some undefined condition? Certainly the manufacturers, Offit and Plotkin, did not screen for such viruses in spite of using pig trypsin in the manufacturing process.

        The bottom line is that the FDA does not actually know the rotavirus vaccine to be safe, or any other vaccine for that matter, where the public is banned from using the technology available for linking diseases and cancers to vaccine contaminants arising in the substrates – a capability which would eliminate `CDC Epidemythology` predicated on pre-ordained diseases temporally associated with vaccine administration that excludes contact spread of live virus vaccine contaminants.

        Faced with this new technology and legal liability, FDA abdicated responsibility for vaccine substrate selection and oversight to the manufacturers at that May 7, 2010 VRBPAC meeting. Apparently FDA lacked the confidence you exude about the safety of the vaccine.

        DOE/LLL transferred the technology to the Chinese – hopefully the Chinese vaccine manufacturers will make better vaccines with it, but there is no one in the United States watching if they do not…and the Chinese know that.

        Was lead in children`s toys a Chinese oversight or reliance on FDA`s approval of mercury in vaccines?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 22, 2015 at 14:07 #

        “Your derision of the technology patented…”

        Where is there derision in my comment? Answer: there isn’t. You are using an old debate technique of trying to paint me in a bad light. Ironically you make clearly derisive comments. For example, stating the vaccine is not “Kosher”. An attempt at derisive humor. A failed attempt. Consider this recent article (

        Your “epidemythology” statement is also derisive.

        So, if being derisive in an argument is bad, as your comment suggest, isn’t it ironic that you are the one practicing derision?

        A few points. The technology wasn’t “transferred” to anyone. It could be licensed, but the technology remains in the U.S.. At LLNL (not LLL. My first patent is from my time at LLNL, by the way).

        You misrepresent the vaccine, the meeting and the actions of the FDA. And you avoid the fact that the same technology was used to prove the vaccine doesn’t result in infections.

        ” but FDA banned the use of the LLMDA for diagnosing vaccine reactions after relinquishing oversight of vaccine substrates ”

        So, how did Hewitson do the work her team did if the use was “banned”? How does one “ban” a technology from being used? Answer, one doesn’t. You use a lot of sciency sounding language to hide the fact that you (a) don’t know what you are talking about and (b) are making facts up. It’s a smoke screen. An obvious one to anyone who takes just a moment to check your “facts”. Had you not been so derisive, perhaps I wouldn’t have taken the time to read your comment closely enough to see how your “Facts” are nonsense.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 22, 2015 at 14:13 #

        “The supposition that people who eat pork carry such viruses assumes that people would be exposed”

        How is a demonstrated fact a “supposition”? Answer, it isn’t. You are playing games.

    • Sheogorath April 20, 2015 at 21:19 #

      There’s possibly fragments of porcine viruses found in certain types of insulin all the time. Do I worry about it? No. Even fragments of SARS can’t make humans sick.


  1. Twitter Roundup: Autism, Vaccines, & the Brain. « Autism Science Foundation - September 17, 2009

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