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Bogus Urine Metals Testing Fails In Vaccine Court

13 Mar

The Thimersoal “test cases” in the OAP relied on bogus urine mercury testing. Among many other common problems the petitioners had in providing any sound scientific support for the notion that mecury can cause autism, that, was at least in part, the apparent conclusion of all three of the special masters.

I just skimmed through the recent decisions by the US Court Of Federal Claims in the Thimerosal “test cases” that were part of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding, and the expert testimony provided by Dr. Brent (respondent) in this regard is pretty clear:

From the Mead Decision

When specifically asked about the urine mercury tests that were performed on William, Dr. Brent said that the tests “showed pretty much exactly what you’d expect for the normal population, that their unprovoked specimens are normal. Yet, when they give chelators, most of [mercury excretion results] are increased.” Id. at 1852-1853. Dr. Brent expressed a concern about the use of data in this way to suggest that a condition exists that, in fact, does not. See id. at 1853. He stated that “it’s data like this that has been used as an excuse to subject these children to chelation therapy where the data supports [a finding] that their urine mercury status is totally normal.” Id. at 1853.

From the King Decision

Moreover, Dr. Brent explained that when the results of mercury testing of Jordan, both provoked and non-provoked, are viewed in their entirety, they are exactly what one would expect from an individual without any mercury-related problem. That is, Jordan’s non-provoked test results were within the normal range for non-provoked testing. (Tr. 1852-53, 4340.) At the same time, while his provoked results were outside the normal range for non-provoked testing, that is not surprising since the provocation/chelation process is designed to specifically provoke an increased excretion of metals. (Tr. 1852-53, 4340-41, 4347.) As Drs. Brent and Fombonne explained, administration of a chelating agent to anyone, autistic or not, mercury-poisoned or not, will always be followed by increased excretion of mercury.118 (Ex. M, p. 74; Tr. 1852, 4340-41, 4343.)

Interestingly, the added scientific clarity of the special masters with regard to bogus urine metals testing is also present to some degree in all three test cases:

Here’s one example from the Mead Decision

Moreover, a subsequent study, as reported in the 2007 Soden article filed as RMRL 458,150 could not confirm the 2003 Bradstreet study results. See Mead Tr. at 1844. The investigators found that “DMSA provoked excretion testing did not produce evidence of an excess chelatable body burden among the autistic [study] participants.” RMRL 458 at 480. The investigators concluded that “[i]n the absence of a novel mechanism of heavy metal toxicity or an alternate therapeutic action of chelators, the data presented provide[d] no justification for chelation therapy for the [study] participants.”

Many will remember the conclusion of Soden et al.

“In the absence a proven novel mode of heavy metal toxicity, the proportion of autistic participants in this study whose DMSA provoked excretion results demonstrate an excess chelatable body burden of As, Cd, Pb, or Hg is zero.”

But perhaps the most interesting of all, is the common thread that the reliance upon the bogus mercury testing seems pretty much acknowledged for what it is by both the special masters and the petitioners’ expert:

From the Dwyer Decision

Doctor Mumper’s willingness to rely on Colin’s mercury test results as evidence of high levels of mercury in his body was particularly troubling. She admitted that his results were not typical of those she saw in other autistic children. She admitted that she knew of no research into normal mercury excretion levels after chelation against which Colin’s one positive mercury test could be measured.741 It appeared that regardless of the results for mercury levels, Dr. Mumper was willing to opine that they reflected mercury’s role in ASD.

From the King Decision

In short, a careful analysis of the record demonstrates that there is no valid basis for Dr. Mumper’s view that the results of mercury excretion testing on Jordan King offer support for a conclusion that thimerosal-containing vaccines played a role in causing Jordan’s autism. To the contrary, the evidence supports a conclusion that Dr. Mumper’s reliance on such mercury tests has no basis in science or logic. Indeed, upon cross-examination even Dr. Mumper acknowledged that there is no particular profile or pattern of post-provocation test results that points to a finding that a child has mercury-induced autism. (Tr. 1555-60, 1568-69.) When pressed, Dr. Mumper could not even suggest an example of any type of result on a post-provocation mercury urine test that would not, in her analysis, support a claim of mercury-induced autism. (Tr. 1558-60.) Dr. Mumper’s analysis in this regard was illogical, and completely unpersuasive.119

Yep, regardless of the results of a scientifically meaningless test, it’s the mercury. Right.

Remember, these were the three Thimerosal “test cases”, presumably chosen by the Petitioner’s Steering Committee (PSC) because they offered the best opportunity to introduce good, and representative scientific evidence for the hypothesized role of thimerosal in the etiology of autism. It looks like they failed miserably, and this doesn’t seem surprising when it’s clear the cases leaned on at least one form of laboratory testing that’s clearly scientifically meaningless.

It won’t be surprising when many of the die-hard anti-vaccine and “alternative” autism medicine brigade ignore the fact that bogus urine toxic metals testing just had a bright light shined on it by the vaccine court. They’ll be likely to claim some form of conspiracy or politics about the cases, despite the fact that the spotlight revealed an apparent decision-making tool of many a “DAN! doctor” to not only be worthless in medicine, but also worthless in court.

On a related note, there has been recent news that a couple of “DAN! doctors” are facing a lawsuit in which bogus urine toxic metals testing is called out directly. Aside from numerous other problems they face in the complaint, it should be interesting to see how the defendants (Dr. Dan Rossignol, Dr. Anjum Usman, and Doctors Data, Inc.) explain the potential role of comparing chelator-provoked urine metals levels to a non-provoked reference range. If the three test cases in the OAP are an indication of the state of actual scientific support for such testing, the defendants would seem to have plenty to worry about.

Additional reading:

Mead v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Case No. 03-215V
King v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Case No. 03-584V
Dwyer v. Secretary of Health and Human Services Case No. 03-1202V
Thimerosal-Autism Test Cases Dismissed
Doctors sued over ‘dangerous’ autism treatment
Suing DAN! practitioners for malpractice: It’s about time
How the “Urine Toxic Metals” Test Is Used to Defraud Patients
24-hour provoked urine excretion test for heavy metals in children with autism and typically developing controls, a pilot study

Wakefield, O’Leary and Bustin

4 Feb

Below is an old post from 2007 when the Omnibus hearings were in full swing. It goes through the testimony of Professor Stephen Bustin and why it was so deadly to the MMR hypothesis. I thought now might be an ideal time to republish it.

On Day 8 of the Autism Omnibus proceedings, the MMR section of the hypothesis under examination (that thiomersal and MMR together cause autism) was examined. Just to briefly generalise about the MMR hypothesis –

It was hypothesised that measles virus (MV) from the MMR was travelling from the injection site, to the gut and then to the brain where it either a) causes autism or b) in conjunction with thiomersal causes autism. Wakefield claims to have found MV in the gut of several kids. Krigsman claimed to have replicated this work. They both used the lab of one Professor John O’Leary (Unigenetics IIRC) in Ireland.

So, on Day 8 of these proceedings Stephen Bustin came to the stand. Bustin is possibly _the_ world expert on the techniques used in the O’Leary lab that he claimed led to identifying MV in autistic kids gut and brain. The technique is called PCR. Not only does Bustin use PCR every day, he has 14 papers in the peer reviewed literature on PCR, over 8 book chapters and is personally the author of the _A to Z of Quantitative PCR._ which is considered ‘the bible’ of PCR. One of his papers has been cited over 1,000 times. Another has been cited over 500 times. He both organises and speaks at international PCR conferences (1934 – 37).

Basically, when it comes to PCR – this is the guy.

The first part of Bustin’s testimony concentrated on an explanation of PCR techniques and how these techniques were employed in a key study relied upon the week previous to make the MMR/Cedillo case: Uhlmann 2002. This paper describes the _exact process that Unigentics lab used to carry out their PCR work_ .

This is a mind bogglingly techie area so I’m going to try and stick to laypersons terms. Basically, the Uhlmann study is badly flawed. The key issues related to controls. Uhlmann (and a subsequent, as yet unpublished Walker poster presentation) didn’t use any.

a positive control is an essential control that tells you whether your assay is working, so what you would do is you would take the target that you’re interested in detecting and put it into a test tube and use your assay to detect it. If you don’t detect it, you know there’s a problem with your assay because it’s a positive control. If you do detect it, you know your assay is working. If you do this consistently each time, you know how efficient your assay is from day to day.

The positive control is simply something that tells you that your assay is okay.

Q And a negative control?
A A negative control is something very crucial. There you leave out your target, so if you don’t detect it then that means that there’s no amplification, which is what you want. If you do detect a positive in a negative control then you know there’s a problem with your assay because it should not be there, and you always get suspicious of any assay that gives you a positive result in a negative control.

So, back to Uhlmann:

Q And did Uhlmann provide the information necessary to establish whether these controls were working as expected?
A No. One of the surprising aspects of this paper is they give you very little information about how the assay was performed, about what the results actually were, and it really does not let you evaluate at all how reliable and consistent the results are.

Q Is there any discussion in Uhlmann about contamination?
A No.

Q Is this important?
A It is essential because obviously if you are trying to detect a very low copy number target and there is contamination around, and if you do not know whether there’s contamination around, then you can’t rely on your assay.

……

Q Now, did Uhlmann discuss how the RNA was handled?
A No. As I think I said one of the things about this paper is that it’s fairly unique in my experience, and it’s given no information at all about what actually was done. It actually tells you in outline what they did, where they got their samples from and that they prepared RNA, but it gives you no information whatsoever about, for example, the quality of the RNA the quantity of the RNA and how the different RNAs were extracted from different samples which they refer to.

Without being sure of how RNA is handled, it is impossible to rule out contaminants. i.e. that the samples are contaminated. And there’s more:

Q Did you also identify a mismatch between the measles virus sequences listed in the paper and the probes?
A Yes. This is, again, well, it suggests that there’s a problem with the probe design.

Q Now, regarding consistency and reproducibility did Uhlmann provide any data regarding amplification sensitivity or efficiency?
A No. I need to come back to what I’ve been saying several times now. There’s this lack of information that doesn’t allow you to evaluate this paper properly in terms of its validity.

And specifically regarding the Walker poster presentation:

….Now, as I tried to point out today I think virtually every expert in this case has referred to controls are essential. You always want controls of your samples. There’s no controls on this. So even though this is a poster presentation at the very least there should be a negative control on there to show that the PCR in the negative control hasn’t worked.

We don’t have that information. So this immediately invalidates these results because we can’t now say whether these are genuine or not because there’s no negative control there. So that’s a real problem….

Q Unless these issues are resolved would you have confidence at least in what’s been presented from the Walker lab?
A I can’t have any confidence because there’s actually no results I can evaluate without referring to a negative or a positive control, and these don’t give them to me.

So basically, Mr PCR – the guy who literally wrote the book on PCR – thinks these two things – the Uhlmann paper and the Walker poster presentation – are essentially useless.

Lets also not forget that these two items describe the exact methodology that Unigentics – O’Leary’s lab – used to state that Wakefields/Krigsmans and a multitude of private cases had MV in their samples.

Oh yeah – and as for the old crapola about the two clinical studies done thus far not repudiating Wakefield et al because the look at blood, not gut, Bustin states emphatically:

this is not an assay that is at its limits so this should be easily detectible, and it also means that if you’ve got that much measles virus in a gut sample it probably is in other cells as well and you should be able to detect it, for example, in blood.

In blood.

Turning to Unigenetics itself, as part of the failed UK litigation against MMR, Bustin was asked to look at the lab and samples that the Unigentics team had worked on. For this work he put in an astonishing 1,500 hours of work.

Now, Professor O’Leary’s own controls tell us that this should have been shifted upwards because this is much poorer quality RNA. The evidence from his own data is completely clear. There’s no such shift. This must mean that whatever this is is a contaminant that has been introduced after the sample has been formalin-fixed.

So by definition this cannot be part of the original biopsy because if it had been it will have shifted upwards.

Ouch. But the next one is a body blow to the entire MMR hypothesis.

…if you have a reference gene in that sample that is a cellular reference gene you should detect it if the RNA is of good quality.

If you don’t detect it there’s something wrong with the RNA. As Professor O’Leary’s SOP states, if we can’t detect the GAPDH we shouldn’t use the sample for analysis, which makes perfect sense.

Now, it happens that Professor O’Leary did use those samples for his analysis, and that’s why I was able to then hopefully identify what the contaminant is.

To summarise: O’Leary’s RNA was poor quality. There is no reference gene. There is something wrong with the RNA. O’Learys lab SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) states that in the events of this happening, they shouldn’t use the sample for analysis. But they did use it. They used contaminated RNA for their analysis. And Bustin has identified exactly what the contaminant was.

But first, what is _definitely not_ ?

If you detect a target that is apparently measles virus in the absence of an RT [like this one] step by definition it can’t be measles virus because it has to be DNA [measles virus does not exist as a DNA molecule]. It’s a very simple concept. At least it is to me. It’s not to everyone else.

Whatever it is that O’Learys lab is picking up in their lab tests, it cannot possibly be Measles virus. No RT step was taken:

What I immediately observed was that they had forgotten to do the RT step

No RT step means it’s DNA. Measles virus does not exist as a DNA molecule. That’s simple medical fact. Bustin later summed up:

So all of this evidence suggests very, very strongly that what they are detecting is DNA and not RNA. Because measles virus doesn’t exist as a DNA molecule in nature, they cannot be detecting measles virus RNA. They are detecting a contaminant. All of the additional evidence, from the nonreproducibility by Professor Cotter of the same samples that Unigenetics analyzed to the analysis of the data where there are discordant positives, where the negatives came up positive, suggests very, very strongly to me that there is a lot of contamination in the laboratory, which is not unusual, but they have not handled it very well in how they have troubleshot their problems.

So I have very little doubt that what they are detecting is a DNA contaminant and not measles virus, and I do not believe there is any measles virus in any of the cases they have looked at.

And just as an added kick in the teeth:

Q Now, we know that cerebral spinal fluid samples were sent from Dr. Bradstreet to Unigenetics for testing. Do the same concerns you’ve outlined here apply to that testing?
A Yes. Exactly the same concerns would apply to that.

This testimony exposes the MMR hypothesis as totally dead in the water. What a waste of time, money and health.

Elsewhere

Arthur Allen in the Huffington Post
Autism Diva

Parents in lawsuit over Thoughtful House treatement

14 Nov

Father takes ex-wife to court over son’s autism treatment is the title of a recent story on Statesman.com. The subtitle: Mother says intravenous treatment at Thoughtful House is unproven and too dangerous..

Yes, it’s about chelation. The kid has been undergoing chelation (suppository), but the father wants to do IV chelation. From the Statesman:

Mario Martinez wants his wife’s consent to let their 7-year-old son, William, undergo intravenous chelation — the use of chemicals to remove metals, such as lead and mercury, from the body. Martinez, 39, said he thinks his son is making steady progress at the Thoughtful House Center for Children in Austin by undergoing a less invasive form of chelation and wants the boy to start IV chelation.

The parents are divorced, with the father having primary care of the child. However, Thoughtful House requires both parents to consent to IV chelation.

The mother states that the suppository chelation has been ongoing for two years (yes, years) without progress, but with adverse side effects:

Juli Martinez said in an interview that her son has been receiving chelation in suppository form for two years, which she claims has made him ill. She said chelation hasn’t helped his autism but being in a regular classroom has.

The father has taken the mother to court to get the approval for the IV chelation.

Chelation is the process of removing metals from the body through drugs. Alternative medical practitioners (such as Thoughftul House) use chelation on the assumption that “heavy metal toxicity” is a factor in autism.

It isn’t. This is based on an incredibly bad hyptohesis (Autism is a “novel” form of mercury poisoning), and idea that actual medical toxicologists reject.

Chelation therapy for real heavy metal toxicity is not a prolonged process. Two years is very long. Chelation by suppository is a relatively inexpensive therapy. By contrast, IV chelation at thoughtful house involves $400 every two weeks in testing:

While there may not be scientific proof that chelation helps autism, anecdotal evidence exists, Mario Martinez said. He is willing to spend an extra $400 every two weeks on tests to make sure the twice-monthly IVs are safe, he said.

The father says that the IV chelation is great:

Mario Martinez, who has had primary custody of the couple’s two children since their 2007 divorce, disputes that chelation has made William ill and said that the boy had an IV chelation test that showed he easily tolerated it. He said it brought “immediate, dramatic results,” in which his learning and behavior improved.

I wonder what an “IV Chelation test” is? Did they do a round of IV chelation, without the mother’s consent? What about their rules that the mother has to approve?

Frankly, the mother should be the one taking the father to court.

The court proceeding has been put off until Dr. Jepson of Thoughful House can appear or give a deposition.

The mother is representing herself. Frankly, a medical toxicologist should step in to offer her some support to end this travesty.

Ritalin and the Health Ranger

5 Jul

According to the Natural News Network they “focus on providing empowering content for intelligent readers.” A recent example is a report on research into potential dangers from ritalin and similar stimulants that are prescribed to an increasing number of children and adolescents for the treatment of ADHD. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry an estimated 2.5 million children and teens in the USA are taking these drugs and their use amongst adults is increasing. So it is important to assess their safety.

Whatever their intelligence, readers are unlikely to feel empowered after reading Mike Adams’ (aka the Health Ranger) recent article for Natural News Network, “Ritalin ADHD Drug Linked to 500 Percent Increased Risk of Sudden Death in Children.”

He tells us that

According to scientific research funded by the FDA and the National Institute of Mental Health, drugs such as Ritalin increase the risk of sudden death by five hundred percent among children and teens

And that is all he tells us. There is nothing else about the research in the article, not even a reference or a web link to the research. We are told that according to other research (again no references are provided) “ADHD drugs stunt the physical growth of children while impairing brain development.”

Then we get the usual tirade about ADHD being a fictitious disease, invented by the drug companies in order to boost profits from drug sales. And of course they are in cahoots with the FDA and the psychiatric profession. This wholesale chemical poisoning of our children in the name of profit is, of course, a holocaust and children are dying day by day while the mainstream media remains silent.

The media are so compromised that our trusty Lone Ranger had to use all his ranger skills to unearth this story. Well no. Actually he set up a Google news alert and read it in the Washington Post and on ABC News. So much for the media conspiracy of silence.

Of course he had to rely on the media because the drug companies are busy supressing negative research and hiding it away in obscure journals aided and abetted by “Corrupt, dishonest psych doctors “ Except that the paper is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and it is open access so anyone can read it for free.

This conspiracy of silence seems even more unlikely when you read that the study was supported in part by a contract from the Food and Drug Administration and a grant from NIMH (R01-MH56250) and many of the study’sauthors have received funding from drug companies.

Dr. Walsh has received research support from AstraZeneca. Dr. Duan has received research support from Pfizer. Dr. Olfson has received research funding from Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca and has worked as a consultant for AstraZeneca and Pfizer and as a speaker for Janssen. Dr. Greenhill has received research support from Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka, and Forest. The remaining authors report no competing interests.

The study did something very simple.

Mortality data from 1985–1996 state vital statistics were used to identify 564 cases of sudden death occurring at ages 7 through 19 years across the United States along with a matched group of 564 young people who died as passengers in motor vehicle traffic accidents. The primary exposure measure was the presence of amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, or methylphenidate according to informant reports or as noted in medical examiner records, toxicology results, or death certificates.

So the research team compared deaths in traffic accidents, on the assumption that children’s medication status would have little bearing on survival rates in such circumstances, with other instances of sudden death. They found that the rate of methylphenidate usage for unexplained sudden deaths was five times more than for deaths in road accidents. So does this mean that Ritalin will make your child five times more likely to die unexpectedly than a child who is not taking Ritalin?

Not exactly. The study did find a clear difference in rates of medication between the two groups and subsequent statistical analysis indicated that this difference was significant and not just an artefact. But what does it signify?

Around 4% of American children are currently taking prescribed medications like Ritalin for ADHD. So you would expect that if Ritalin was not a factor in sudden deaths amongst children, we could expect to find around 4% of such children on Ritalin or similar medications. That works out at around 45 children or 22/23 in each group. In fact they only found 12 children on such medications – 10 in the sudden death group and 2 of the victims of traffic accidents.

Rather than Ritalin increasing the likelihood of sudden death, it is plausible to argue from these figures that Ritalin protects against sudden death. Instead of an expected figure of 22/23 Ritalin users they found only 10. and for traffic accidents the figure is even more dramatic – 2 instead of 22/23.

The authors point to all sorts of reasons why their results hould treated with caution: the small sample size; recall bias amongst parents; the rarity of sudden unexplained deaths in children; even the idea that Ritalin protects against sudden death by making children less likely to engage in potentially life threatening actiivities.

If our intrepid health ranger had read the study he would have known this. He would have also known that he has completely misrepresented its findings. Actually, if he had only read the press reports that he links to, he would have known that he has completely misrepresented its findings. I think he does know this and has deliberately misrepresented this study. Either that or he is the victim of his own conspiracy theoryand is totally impervious to any evidence that contradicts his preconceptions.

Whatever the case may be, anyone studying at the University of Google is more likely to get a D minus than a PhD if they rely on the Health Ranger and Natural News for their information. Though to be fair he does do a nice line in organic hair care products from The Valley of Longevity and he will even help you to buy real estate in the actual Valley in southern Ecuador.

Fire, Fatal Injury, and Claims of Certification in an Independent HBOT Clinic

4 May

By now, most readers of LB/RB have learned about the critical injury of an Italian 4 year-old (Francesco Martinizi), and the death of his grandmother, which occurred as the result of an apparent flash fire/explosion at a hyperbaric oxygen therapy center in Florida.

Media Story

Apparently, the boy was likely being treated for Cerebral Palsy.

Media Story

Cerebral Palsy is not an Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS)-approved indication for the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and this was recently commented on by Dr. Charles S. Graffeo in an article in the New York Times online by Jane E. Brody.

He cautioned patients to steer clear of independent hyperbaric centers owned by a single doctor or small medical group that is not affiliated with a major hospital or medical school. Commenting on claims commonly made by such clinics, he said: “No legitimate organization would condone treating cerebral palsy with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. I haven’t seen anything that is even potentially promising to support such a use. If I had a C.P. child, I wouldn’t even consider it.”

Given these recent comments in the New York Times article, I wanted to learn a little more about this Florida hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinic – Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center (OHNC). It’s a clinic that apparently may also use HBOT to treat autism. The clinic appears to be exactly what Dr. Graffeo cautioned about. It seems to be an independent, privately-owned hyperbaric center, and according to the clinic’s website, appears to have a single MD on the board and staff.

The medical director listed at the OHNC’s website is George F. Daviglus.

Dr. Daviglus is a licensed medical doctor in the state of Florida, and apparently, as allowed for by Florida law, may not carry medical malpractice insurance.

Additional information from the OHNC’s website tells us the following about Dr. Daviglius:

Dr Daviglus performed duties as co-director of Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center since 1998 and is now proud director of the clinic. He is certified in Hyperbaric Medicine by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and is Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, Thoracic & Cardiovascular. Additionally, Dr Daviglus holds teaching and attending medical positions at numerous medical institutions including Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery at VA Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital and University of Miami School of Medicine.

While seemingly innocuous (and likely reassuring to potential patients), it’s probably somewhat misleading because it’s stated that Dr. Daviglus is “certified” in Hyperbaric Medicine “by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society”. The UHMS is apparently not an organization that “certifies” the medical expertise of physicians in hyperbaric oxygen therapy like a medical specialty board at all. From the UHMS website page that elaborates on physician certification:

Physician Certification

Physicians can obtain board certification in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine through the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) and the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM), with a current certification from one of the 24 primary member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Physicians must submit an application to the board through which they are certified. Physicians certified by an ABMS member board other than ABEM and ABPM and who fulfill the eligibility criteria must apply to ABPM. Upon successful completion of the examination, certification is awarded by the board through which the physician submitted the application.

So it appears that “certification” in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine is actually the responsibility of ABEM and ABPM, not the UHMS. Both the ABEM and the ABPM are member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. If a physician is certified by either the ABEM or the ABPM (or any other ABMS member boards), a search at the ABMS website should reveal this. A search for physicians with the last name “Daviglus” turns up the following:

George F. Daviglus

American Board of Surgery
Surgery – General (General indicates Primary Certificate)

American Board of Thoracic Surgery
Thoracic Surgery – General (General indicates Primary Certificate)

There was nothing returned for ABEM or ABPM, nothing about Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine, and Dr. Daviglus does not appear on UHMS-maintained lists of physicians certified by ABEM and ABPM.

The UHMS does provide accredidation for hyperbaric facilities themselves – The Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center is not listed by the UHMS as a UHMS-accredited facility.

Additionally, the UHMS appears to have some potential affiliation with the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology (NBDHMT), the board that certifies hyperbaric technicians, diving medical technicians, and hyperbaric registered nurses.

While the two technicians listed on the Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center’s staff page do appear certified as stated, a search for “Daviglus” turns up zero results at the NBDHMT website for CHT, DMT, or CHRN.

It should also be noted that the UHMS does certify “Diving Medical Examiners”. Physicians receiving this education and certification provide medical assessments of “fitness for diving”. Dr. Daviglus does not appear on the list of UHMS-certified Diving Medical Examiners.

It seems possible at this point, that the Ocean Hyperbaric Neurological Center webpage about the staff may not reflect what some would expect with such a claim of certification.

Although unconfirmed, it may be that the director of the clinic possesses a certificate (or certificates) of completion from UHMS-approved Hyperbaric Medicine CME coursework for physcians. Such courses do have the objective of providing education on the subject and often include the word “certification” in the course title. While not exactly “certification in Hyperbaric Medicine by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society”, according to one of the providers of this type of education, an introduction to hyperbaric medicine course “provides the credentials recommended for Physician Hyperbaric Supervision”.

If this is the extent of the “certification” held by Dr. Daviglus in hyperbaric medicine, the clinic’s website might better serve those seeking to clearly understand the staff’s relevant training and “certifications” by adding some clarification. Then again, if something along the lines of completion of one or two weeks worth of CME coursework in hyperbaric medicine represents the extent of the “certification” in hyperbaric medicine held by the director of this clinic, this may contribute to an explanation of why this facility appears to treat conditions like cerebral palsy and autism in the first place – conditions for which there appears to be very little legitimate scientific support behind the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (some have even called the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for such conditions, “quackery”).

Yes, this accident (fire/explosion) is tragic, very tragic. If Francesco indeed survives the injuries he’s apparently sustained, the next couple of months are likely to be very very rough. The situation certainly isn’t helped by the fact that there probably isn’t much in the way of good scientific evidence to support the notion that little 4 year-old Francesco should have ever been in such a facility in the first place.

Author Note: “Do’C” is a nickname, short for Dad Of Cameron. Do’C is not a physician or licensed healthcare provider of any kind. Along with occassional guests, Do’C writes the Autism Street blog.

Insurance companies start to abandon quack autism “cures”

3 May

Some good news. Mary Ann Roser reports on the investigations by major health insurers that are creating funding difficulties for autism clinics which specialised in unproven and dubious treatments for autism:

The owner of an Austin-area clinic that treats children with autism — using techniques that are controversial in mainstream medicine — says investigations by three major insurers have left it with a pile of unpaid claims and a crisis: She’s had to lay off most of her staff and drastically reduce the clinic’s hours.

In addition, Kazuko Grace Curtin said the Texas Medical Board is investigating her medical director. She and the doctor — Jesus Caquias — say the investigation is a way of harassing them because they offer nontraditional care for autism patients.
[…]
CARE Clinics is struggling now because Aetna stopped paying claims in August and is questioning “about $1 million” in claims, Curtin said. Cigna and United Healthcare stopped payments in October and are disputing smaller amounts that Curtin declined to reveal. United is paying again but at a lower rate, she said.

“What they were saying is, autism treatment is not established, it’s experimental,” Curtin said.

Spokeswomen for Cigna and United said the reviews were routine to ensure proper payments. Aetna declined to comment.

Curtin said she closed the two clinics in January to cope with the amount of paperwork she had to produce when the three insurance companies challenged charges for all patients treated in October, November and December. She reopened the Austin clinic March 6, but now it’s open 10 days a month instead of 20 and has 10 employees instead of 40, she said. The Tampa clinic won’t reopen until May, she said.

She also is delaying indefinitely a 30,000-square-foot medical building, school, corporate offices, sports facility, lodge and conference center in Dripping Springs.

“I need some funds,” Curtin said, declining to release specific financial details about her business. “I don’t know how long we can survive.”

The bad news is that while CARE Clinics extract money from increasing skeptical insurers, Thoughtful House is careful to extract the money directly from vunerable parents. Read the whole article for the other non-finanicial pressures on such clinics, and the pleas of victimisation from their owners.

Polly Tommey Woo-ing Gordon Brown

15 Apr

Polly Tommey was due to see Prime Minister Gordon Brown today after a successful billboard campaign, costing a reported £500,000, that invited Gordon Brown to meet with her if he wanted to save £508 million pounds. Ms. Tommey’s son is autistic and she is concerned that there is a terrible fall off in provision and support when you transition from school to adult services. She wants the government to invest in autistic people and her message is that appropriate support will save the government money by lifting autistic people out of benefits and into paid employment. As she says in her press release:

“We want better support, we want politicians to engage with us and we want the acknowledgement and support that our children deserve as fully contributing members of society.”

This is all very admirable. But Dr Michael Fitzpatrick has written An Open Letter to Gordon Brown in which he questions how she expects to achieve her aim.

In her campaign posters, Mrs Tommey, whose 12-year-old son Billy is autistic, offers to save the UK government £500 million a year by helping people with autism to get jobs. But it is not clear from the posters how she thinks this can be achieved. However, The Autism File, the magazine she edits, focuses on two issues: supporting the campaign led by the former Royal Free Hospital researcher Andrew Wakefield against the MMR vaccine and promoting ‘unorthodox biomedical’ treatments for children with autism.

The main point that Dr Fitzpatrick makes is that if her message to the prime minister is the same as the one she promotes in The Autism File she would be well advised to think again. He ends thus:

If she wants better provision of diagnostic, supportive and educational services, she might consider adding her energies to the long-running campaigns of the National Autistic Society and others, currently focused on the Autism Bill.

Ms Tommey’s supporters have been quick to respond. At The Age of Autism, Teri Arranga accuses Dr Fitzpatrick of carrying out an inquisition against the Autism Trust and quotes Trust Chairman. Oliver Jones who responded to Dr Fitzpatrick as follows:

I am both shocked and astounded having read your open letter on the Internet this afternoon. How dare you act in such an ill informed manner about a campaign that I and many others have invested significant time and effort in – when you evidently have no idea about what we are actually focused upon.
I find it remarkable that a professional person can take such an aggressive stance as you have done about The Autism Trust’s campaign without having the decency or following proper protocol by making contact with any of the Trustees and specifically myself to determine the objectives and intent of our forthcoming meetings.

The tone of the article is plain. The Autism Trust is trying to improve services and quality of life for autistic people in the UK and Dr Fitzpatrick is misrepresenting their aims and undermining their efforts because he resents Ms Tommey’s support for biomedical interventions. Having read the Autism Trust’s lengthy press release I agree with Dr Fitzpatrick.

“A Personal Campaign”

The press release is clear that this is Ms Tommey’s “personal campaign.” She wishes to speak to Gordon Brown “on behalf of the thousands of mothers of children with autism in the UK.” It repeats that this is “Her campaign” and highlights her role as Editor-in-Chief of The Autism File.

Credibility

Ms Tommey obviously has a lot of business acumen and is an astute campaigner who is adept at using the media to position herself “as one of the leading figures in autism in the UK.” But, as Dr Fitzpatrick points out, her support for discredited notions about MMR and autism and her promotion of unproven treatments do call her credibility into question. This is underlined by errors in the press release. Ms Tommey claims that:

autism numbers have increased dramatically in the last twenty years from 1 in 10,000 in 1988 to 1 in 100 today.

As long ago as 1966 Lotter established a figure of 4 in 10000 for severely autistic children. When Wing and Gould examined the broader autistic spectrum in 1979 they found 20 in 10000. The present figure of 100 in 10000 includes people without significant cognitive impairments who were only added to the diagnostic criteria in 1994.

But Ms Tommey uses these false figures to argue that we face a fresh challenge as for the first time a significant number of adults enter the system. This is a direct contradiction of the NAS I Exist campaign which has successfully persuaded the government that generations of autistic adults have been ignored. The NAS is continuously engaged in discussions with government ministers and officials to get a commitment to action based on the provisions of the Autism Bill which enjoys unprecedented support amongst MPs.

Centres of Excellence

The Centres of Excellence proposed by the Autism Trust seek to provide residential communities in rural locations that provide a “safe haven” for autistic adults. They hope that such centres will provide support for autistic adults in the community, setting up in business or becoming self employed. But most people live in urban settings so it hard to envisage how they will benefit. And despite Mr Jones’ protests it is clear that the Autism Trust is as committed as Ms Tommey is to nonsense cures and treatments. Each centre of excellence will feature a wellness centre offering all manner of quackery including homeopathy, chelation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, as well as training centre and a conference centre promoting these “biomedical interventions.”

I think that Mr Jones’ complaints against Dr Fitzpatrick are disingenuous. If anything Dr Fitzpatrick should be taken to task for failing to mention the Autism Trust in his open letter. At a time when service providers are moving away from the model of self contained autism communities in favour of closer integration of services within everyday society the Autism Trust proposes to build a worldwide network of such communities.

They expect local authorities to fund places in their residential homes while they are free to develop profitable spin offs promoting quackery. Or, as they describe it in their financial model:

The capital development and business operating model will depend on the facility mix and local partners – as well as the engagement and support available from local and national government. A mix of charitable status and commercially self-standing models will be explored in each location.

Danger

The greatest danger is not that Ms Tommey and the Autism Trust are going to persuade the government to follow their lead. But by muddying the waters with their campaign they may give the government an excuse to back pedal on existing commitments while they consult with this self appointed autism constituency. The best way forward is to get behind the NAS campaign and keep up the pressure for the provisions of the autism bill to become law.

Facebook is the new vaccines

11 Mar

I thought I’d maybe travelled a couple of weeks forward in time and was reading a particularly stupid April Fools joke news report when I saw the Daily Mail were reporting:

Of course, we do not know whether the current increase in autism is due more to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism, or whether it can – if there is a true increase – be in any way linked to an increased prevalence among people of spending time in screen relationships. Surely it is a point worth considering,’ she added.

‘She’ in this instance is Professor Susan Greenfield of Oxford University, which just goes to show that even a massively intelligent person can also be a monumental idiot on occasion too. Some other gems of wisdom include:

‘My fear is that these technologies are infantilising the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.’

Buzzing noises and bright lights. I think these opinions reflect the lack of experience Professor Greenfield has with computers rather than any accurate reflection of how a PC or Mac actually works.

Note something about this totally ridiculous piece of journalism. They use buzzwords like Twitter and Facebook that the average uninformed Daily Mail reader might’ve seen but have no real idea about. They also clearly are talking about the opinions of one woman. At no point is any study or science referenced to support this Professors opinions.

In the eighties the Daily Mail was one of those newspapers convinced that ‘video nasties’ (straight to video low budget horror movies) would bring about the end of civilisation. In the nineties they were of course standard bearers for antivaccination beliefs. In the noughties they’ve published a few pieces on the evils of the nasty Intraweb.

But of course what really annoys me about this is the fastening on to autism. Its explained how naturally autistic people function online is a possible example of how the online environment (Facebook, Bebo, Twitter etc) are (oh dear god!) rewiring the brains of our children and making them autistic.

Never mind the fact that most new cases of autism are diagnosed in kids under three whos only interaction with a PC up to that point would be to try and push a rusk into the DVD tray. Never mind the fact that adult autistics are pretty wary of social networks at first. Lets just find another way to demonise autism and blame it on something else for which there is no supporting science whatsoever.

Sharyl Attkisson's long history of anti-vaccinationism

1 Aug

As blogged by Mike, Liz, Autism News Beat, Kristina and Orac, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson seems to the prime suspect in the matter of how a fax sent to CBS News by Voices for Vaccines turned up on the Age of Autism blog less than 1 day later.

This matters. Reporters are supposed to be independent. They are supposed to give a balanced view. The very act of forwarding this fax to Age of Autism simply confirms that someone at CBS News, mostly likely Ms Attkisson, is deeply affiliated with Age of Autism. This makes her conflicted and she is totally the wrong person to be investigating the autism/vaccine hypothesis.

I went looking to see what else I could find to support my opinion that Ms Attkisson is someone who is not a reporter, but someone presenting her opinion in the name of investigative news. I found plenty.

Take this ‘interview‘ with Rep. Dave Weldon about the Poling case. I put the word interview in single quotes because it really isn’t an interview, its more a series of questions to allow Weldon to trot out a series of inaccuracies supportive of the idea vaccines cause autism. This is the sort of journalist who would ask God ‘tell me God, do you believe in creationism?’ And then give God a five minute run to explain how he does.

She was also the CBS employee (it seems wrong to keep saying she is a reporter) who interviewed Bernadine Healy in which the former Philip Morris shill said we should re-examine the autism/vaccine idea.

Over on the ‘No Mercury’ website, there is a long list of videos of Ms Attkisson (35 in total, dating back to March 2002) of which all seem to be ‘investigations’ into vaccines and other pharma related activities.

This piece which relates some of the most common and mind-numbingly stupid antivax canards around is just about the clearest indication of her loyalties. Anyone who states the following is not impartial and should not be investigating this story:

Non-profits which dispel any vaccine/autism/ADD link have ties to vaccine makers.

How urban legends get started

27 Jul

Its not often we in the autism/bad science community (you’ll know who we are, just look for the Reptiles who guard our huge mansions paid for by big pharma, or our Black Helicopters parked outside said mansions) get to see the actual birth of a brand new urban legend. When we do, we must tread warily, lest we scare off the fledgling nuttiness like bird watchers creeping up on a White-rumped Sandpiper.

But here we are, presented to you courtesy of two genuine, grade a mouth-frothers from those hallowed fori of all things anti-vaccine JABS (not, as some think an acronym for Just Awful British Silliness).

First, lets meet ‘Guss the Fuss’ – a person who ends each post with the legend ‘MMR RIP’, he seems to be under the delusion that the MMR is in some way dead. Or maybe that its pulled off a spectacular fart.

Second, is ‘Truthseeker’ who is non other than the owner of whale.to, one John Scudamore, a strange person who features anti-Semitic material on their site along with ‘The Illuminati Formula Used to Create an Undetectable Total Mind Controlled Slave’. Also apparently a man who thinks that satanic ley lines burnt his bottom. In fact, so impressed was I with Mr Scudamore, I decided to create the first in a series of Bad Science tarot cards, commemorating his ass-related event.

John Scudamore - Tarot

Anyway, on this occasion, these two paragons of anti-vaccinationism managed to start an urban legend that fullfilled the prime directive of anti-vaccinationism; its bullshit.

Gus The Fuss started a thread entitled: Sainsbury’s to offer holiday MMR jabs.

Oh no, the horror….except when Guss (the Fuss) linked through to the story, well, there was absolutely no mention of MMR whatsoever. When this was pointed out to him, he answered:

Dr Thomas P again you’ve proven to take articles at face value…

????

Someone else attempted to gently remonstrate with Guss (the) Fuss:

Gus, this is a story about getting vaccines against diseases you may encounter on holiday. Have you not read it?

There’s nothing about scheduled vaccines, is there? Eh? Is there?

Sainsbury’s are NOT offering the MMR vaccine.

And thats when John ‘Truthseeker’ Scudamore turned up:

Who is mentally ill and showing sociopathic tendancies out of you or Gus. The bad science PHD Doctor who is happy that allopathic mnedicine is still killing 750,000 americans each year and you still condone it? The bad science PHD who will not even attack the indusrty that commits this genocide? You are either a Sociopath or you are mentally ill as you can not see reality as is or you condone genocide.

All this about a total non-story.

This, Dear Reader, is how anti-vaccination/autism bull gets started and spread. Someone makes up a story, links to a news story that has a slight relationship to it and then….away we go!

Thanks JABS, for making sure misinformation grows. Thats really helpful!