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Comment on: Expression of Concern: Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data

31 Aug

It’s in a peer reviewed journal. We’ve heard that a lot about Mr. Hooker’s recent paper “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young African American boys: a reanalysis of CDC data”

What does “peer” review mean when the person who wrote the paper has shown himself to have a bit of a problem with the truth? Who is the peer for someone who acts as the “priest” to a man in order to record his statements and put edited versions of them on the web?

I ask this because the editor of the journal Translational Neurodegeneration has published an “Expression of Concern”. I’ve never seen an editorial “expression of concern” before and I’ve been publishing papers for 25 or so years.

Here is that “Expression of Concern

The Publisher of this article [1] has serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions because of possible undeclared competing interests of the author and peer reviewers. The matter is undergoing investigation. In the meantime, readers are advised to treat the reported conclusions of this study with caution. Further action will be taken, if appropriate, once our investigation is complete

Let’s start by exploring the “competing interests” statement on Mr. Hooker’s recent paper. Authors are supposed to list whether and what conflicts of interest they may have so the reader can weight that when reading the paper. Mr. Hooker’s article lists as “competing interests” that “Dr. Hooker has been involved in vaccine/biologic litigation.”

If memory serves, Brian Hooker has used this “competing interest” statement before. I remember that because I found it odd given that his case as a petitioner before the Court of Federal Claims (vaccine court) is still ongoing. The way the above is phrased does not capture the active nature of his case.

What about the question the editors raised about peer reviewers? Well, we can only speculate because we don’t know who those reviewers might be. An author can often suggest possible referees for his/her paper when it is first submitted. One should be intellectually honest and not just recommend one’s friends. The editor is not bound to use the suggested authors. If not, the editor may look for similar papers in his/her journal and ask authors of those papers to referee. There are only three papers involving vaccines at the journal Translational Neurodegeneration presently. Two of those involved Mark and David Geier, the father/son team that has been much discussed here and elsewhere. It would be reasonable for the editors to think about the Geiers as referees. One of the papers papers is “A two-phase study evaluating the relationship between Thimerosal-containing vaccine administration and the risk for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in the United States”. It appeared in Tanslational Neurodegeneration last year.

Let’s take a brief aside. Ever heard of that paper? That’s what happens to mediocre science published by biased authors. No one cares. That is, unless, one comes out with dramatic press releases about “CDC Whistleblowers”.

Take a look at the competing interests statement in the “two-phased study”. It is the same as in the new paper by Mr. Hooker. Besides the fact that this doesn’t capture the active nature of Mr. Hooker’s case, it doesn’t capture the fact that Mark Geier is an expert witness in a case. Given that the Which is again odd as Mark Geier is currently engaged as an expert witness to Mr. Hooker’s ongoing court case. Mr. Geier has been hired by Mr. Hooker.

Back to the first paper–let’s say that one or both Geiers were chosen as referees. Either by recommendation of Mr. Hooker or because the editor is mining his previous authors. The fact that Mark Geier is working on active litigation for Mr. Hooker would be a pretty serious competing interest. Had Mr. Hooker recommended Mr. Geier, Mr. Hooker should have declared this business relationship they had.

Again, we can only speculate at this point. But this is an example of what sort of problem might be ongoing that the editors wish to investigate.

Mr. Hooker’s current paper (his reanalysis) has been replaced on the journal website with this statement:

This article has been removed from the public domain because of serious concerns about the validity of its conclusions. The journal and publisher believe that its continued availability may not be in the public interest. Definitive editorial action will be pending further investigation

My guess is that the editors took a second look at this paper after the very strange and very bad public relations campaign Mr. Hooker engaged in. Finding discussions by researchers online discussing how bad this paper is, the editors questioned how the paper got through. And found a possible problem with the referees chosen, resulting in their expression of concern.

From a list of discussions about the Hooker paper put together by educator/writer Liz Ditz:

  • August 22, 2014,  Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence:  Brian Hooker proves Andrew Wakefield wrong about vaccines and autism

    Of course, the key finding in Brian Hooker’s paper is that Wakefield was wrong. Indeed, in this video, Wakefield even admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. Let that sink in again. He admits that he was mostly wrong about MMR and autism. OK, he says we were “partially right,” but the flip side of that is that he must have been mostly wrong.

  • August 22, 2014, Reuben Gaines at The Poxes Blog: Andrew Jeremy Wakefield plays video director while African-American Babies die, or something

    Hooker is wrong in his assertions because the DeStefano paper did not leave out African-American children on purpose. Children were excluded from the analysis because of very legitimate and scientific reasons. They either were not the right age, did not have autism but some other neurodevelopment disorder, or were born outside of Georgia. Even if they were tossed into the analysis, DeStefano et al used a statistical analysis that took into account things like birth weight and mother’s age when analysing the data. They wanted to make sure that what they were seeing was most likely because of the MMR vaccine and not because of some other factor associated with autism.

  • August 23, 2014,  Ren at Epidemiological: Directed Acyclic Graphs and the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism.

    I’m very skeptical that Dr. Hooker’s simplified statistical approach can be better than DeStefano et al’s approach of conditional logistic regression. Conditional logistic regression has the advantage of being able to control for a multitude of confounders and effect modifiers.

  • Another cause for concern in my view would be Mr. Hooker’s declaration submitted with the paper. Authors are required to state that they are submitting original research. An analysis performed 10 years ago by someone at another organization (CDC in this case) which you duplicated is not, in my opinion, original research.

    Also there is a very broad competing interests statement on the Journal’s website

    Non-financial competing interests
    Non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to) political, personal, religious, ideological, academic, and intellectual competing interests. If, after reading these guidelines, you are unsure whether you have a competing interest, please contact the Editor

    Mr. Hooker certainly has some personal and ideological interests. Here’s a YouTube video of a presentation he gave last year, and discussed here at Left Brain/Right Brain. It’s a Skype-talk.

    Here’s a screenshot:

    hooker_autism_inside_job

    His talk is “CDC — Ground Zero for the decline of children in the United States”. His logo on every page is a mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb explosion. The title of Mr. Hooker’s talk in the program for that event was “Autism-an inside job”. I’m going with strong “ideological interests” here. Both in his views on vaccines and on his views on the CDC. But anyone seeing the recent videos he produced with Andrew Wakefield would know that.

    When I wrote about this talk before I noted that it was presented at a 9/11 Truther online conference. Mr. Hooker let me know that he took offence to the implication that he is a 9/11 truther. I wasn’t making that implication then and I’m not now. I do think Mr. Hooker makes very poor choices when he chooses to lend his name to a 9/11 truther event.

    In this case, it isn’t that Mr. Hooker’s decisions are poor (they are), it’s that his choices show that he has a rather strong ideological stance on vaccines and the CDC. One which the editors of his recent article likely wish Mr. Hooker had disclosed when he submitted his paper.

    Of course, with all this in the public domain, this also begs the question of why “CDC Whistleblower” William Thompson chose to work closely with Mr. Hooker. But that is a discussion for another time.


    By Matt Carey

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    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. 

    Mark Blaxill on the Geiers: they do sloppy work

    13 Oct

    Mark Geier and, more recently, his son David have been active promoting autism as vaccine injury for over 10 years (Mark Geier has been active as an expert in, and been criticized for his lack of quality work, the vaccine court on non-autism issues for about 20 years). They have written multiple papers, ranging from bad to worse, attempting to argue the case that vaccines (and especially thimerosal) are a primary cause of autism.

    There are multiple discussions over the years of the Geiers here on Left Brain/Right Brain, Respectful Insolence as well as many other places. The best work was done by Kathleen Seidel at Neurodiversity.com, but due to a server crash much of that content is not readily available. (although it is worth searching for the cached versions or the versions on the Wayback Machine).

    The work of the Geiers is so poor that it has always been a wonder to me that no criticism has come from anyone promoting the idea that vaccines caused an epidemic of autism. It isn’t that those promoting the vaccine-epidemic idea are not bright, leaving me wondering if they are too biased by their beliefs or just unwilling to speak publicly against an ally. But, recall, these are the same people who closed ranks around Andrew Wakefield in the face of clear and proved ethical violations.

    If we are to believe Jake Crosby, former writer for the Age of Autism blog, it appears that the tacit approval of the Geiers has, at least in part, been a case of “circle the wagons”. I.e. people defending an ally over speak their opinions. Mr. Crosby has blaxillwilliams and quotes more emails where Mark Blaxill (former board member of SafeMinds and a long-time proponent of the idea that mercury in vaccines are a primary cause of autism) expresses his views about the Geiers to Mike Williams (attorney involved representing the families in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding).

    In an email image on Mr. Crosby’s blog, Mr. Blaxill is reported to have stated:

    In the interest of full disclosure. I thought you might like to see my critique of the Geiers’ latest work on VSD. I have not been a big fan of the Geiers. I worry they do not represent our side well. They do sloppy work.

    In another email (quoted by Mr. Crosby, the link to the original is nonfunctioning) quotes Mr. Blaxill as stating:

    “As to the Geiers, I may be a bit of a minority voice here, but I worry very much that they can do our cause more harm than good. They are not very good scientists, write bad papers (both writing badly and reporting in sloppy fashion) and attract too much attention to themselves as individuals. In this last regard, they don’t show nearly as well as Andy Wakefield but they’re trying to play the same role. Frankly, if I were on the other side and were asked to critique their work, I could rip it to shreds. I’m surprised they haven’t been hit harder. So I think you are wise to diversify.”

    Mr. Crosby’s stance is that this constitutes “interference” in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding. I.e. Mr. Crosby seems to imply that the Geiers are not sloppy scientists whose work is poor, but that the Geiers should have been allowed a more active role in the Omnibus.

    In this case I find myself agreeing, in part at least, with Mr. Blaxill. The work by the Geiers is poor. Where I don’t agree is Mr. Blaxill’s decision to hold back on making those statement public. Not just because it’s hard to take the stance that one is a only “…interested in the quest for the truth” when one holds back on key information like an entire critique of the Geiers’ VSD paper. No. It goes deeper than that. The Geiers’ junk science went beyond promotion of the idea that thimerosal is a primary cause of autism. The Geiers ran a clinic for many years. Mark Geier was a licensed physician, David Geier worked in the clinic (and has been accused of practicing medicine without a license). Through their papers and their talks at autism parent conventions like AutismOne, the Geiers became well known. One of the “brand name” autism clinics. They reached this level of respect within their community because no one within that community dared to speak out.

    I’ve noted on Left Brain/Right Brain many times before that these parent conventions differ markedly from real science conferences in that no one ever seriously challenges the speakers. They can present almost any theory or idea, especially if they tie it to autism as vaccine injury, without anyone standing up and saying, “that makes zero sense”. These aren’t science presentations, they are advertisements. It would be interesting to see how many of these conventions Mr. Blaxill attended and yet remained silent on the “sloppy” work that could be “ripp[ed] to shreds” that the Geiers presented. Instead, parents were presented a view that the Geiers were good scientists who suffered unjust criticism for their “brave” stance on vaccines.

    The Geiers were promoters of chelation as a treatment for autism. Not only does chelation have no scientific basis to be an autism treatment, a study just out this week using rodents states that chelation could be harmful if there is no real heavy metal toxicity:

    Finally, we also found that succimer treatment produced lasting adverse neurobehavioral effects when administered to non-lead-exposed rodents, highlighting the potential risks of administering succimer or other metal-chelating agents to children who do not have elevated tissue lead levels. It is of significant concern that this type of therapy has been advocated for treating autism.

    It is highly likely that Mr. Blaxill would disagree with the statement that chelation has no good scientific basis as a treatment for autism. He’d be wrong, but that’s been covered over and over before. The Geiers moved on from standard chelation to stranger, more dangerous therapies. As an aside, if chelation was a successful treatment one has to wonder why the Geiers were prompted to move on to using Lupron as an autism treatment. Lupron is very serious medicine and it shuts down sex hormone production in the body. Why Lupron, one might ask? The Geiers convinced themselves (or convinced themselves that they could pass off this explanation) that mercury bound itself to testosterone in the brain, making it hard to chelate. They cited a paper showing that if one heats testosterone and mercury salts in benzene, one could form these mercury/testosterone complexes. They actually claim (yes, they tried to patent this idea to make money off it) that this paper shows that “It is known in the art that mercuric chloride binds arid forms a complex with testosterone in subjects”. The “subjects” are beakers of benzene, not animals and not people. Add to that the lack of an explanation of how shutting down hormone production would break up these complexes. The Geier “science” supporting Lupron would be laughably bad if it wasn’t used to subject disabled children to Lupron injections.

    Lupron clearly has no basis as an autism therapy. In fact, the “lupron protocol” played a major part in Mark Geier losing his medical licenses. One has to ask, how did the get such traction for such an obviously bad idea? For one thing, the Geiers were considered respected scientists in the vaccine injury/alternative medicine autism community due to their previous and ongoing work trying to link thimerosal and autism. Work which Mark Blaxill considered “sloppy” and worthy of being ripped to shreds. But instead of sharing his views on the Geier papers with the public, Mr. Blaxill shared them privately within his own circle.

    It’s worth noting that the email quoted above was written before the “Lupron Protocol” was developed. We don’t know if Mr. Blaxill was alarmed by the emergence of the “Lupron Protocol”. I can’t find where he spoke out against it. We can see that his blog (under a different writer) promoted the idea as “MERCURY, TESTOSTERONE AND AUTISM – A REALLY BIG IDEA!“. Mr. Blaxill doesn’t seem to have commented there. For all the papers the Geiers have published, Mr. Blaxill only mentions them once in his book “Age of Autism. But as we’ve seen, tacit approval (silence) may not be the same thing as real approval.

    Mr. Blaxill had the courage to testify before a congressional hearing last year. A hearing where the politicians had been lobbied in advance to be favorable to his cause. When it came to disagreeing with one of his allies, that courage was lacking. He allowed “sloppy” science from an ally to go unchallenged. An example of the fallout of such a decision, in my opinion had he stood up he could have slowed or even stopped the “Lupron Protocol”, a therapy which in my opinion amounts to the abusive treatment of disabled children in an uncontrolled and unapproved experiment.


    By Matt Carey

    In the News: John L. Young, a partner of Mark Geier, had his medical license suspended

    6 Mar

    The Baltimore Sun has an article up: USM regent said to have used controversial therapy for autism, subtitled: John L. Young, a partner of Mark Geier, had his medical license suspended.

    USM in the Univiersity System of Maryland. John L. Young was a Regent of USM. And a former business partner for Mark Geier. From the article:

    In the order suspending Young’s license, the Board of Physicians concluded he wrote Lupron prescriptions for nine of Geier’s patients, who ranged in age from six to 17 and who all lived outside of Maryland. The board also said in the order that Young, who sometimes used Skype to speak with patients, broke restrictions against prescribing medicine for people who live outside of the state.

    Young’s actions “constitute a substantial likelihood of risk of serious harm to the public health, welfare and safety,” the board wrote in the suspension order. The board did not say Young used chelation therapy.

    If I interpret this correctly, after his license was supsended, Mark Geier was using his partner to continue the Lupron perscriptions.

    Geier’s theory was that autism was the result of high levels of mercury from vaccinations and that too much testosterone exacerbates the symptoms, hence the use of both Lupron and chelation therapy. Geier diagnosed the children with early-onset puberty, usually a rare diagnosis, and used Lupron to control their hormone development.

    I note that the patients range in age from 6 to 17. 17’s a bit old for “precocious puberty”.

    Mr. Young was to serve as a regent until 2014. He is not presently on the website for the board of regents.

    It appears that the Maryland medical board is recognizing that prescribing Lupron itself as an autism treatment is worthy of censure.


    By Matt Carey

    Tax forms for CoMeD (a Geier nonprofit)

    17 Feb

    A recent article here at Left Brain/Right Brain showed how Mark and David Geier spend their money: on a large house in this case. Another place where the Geiers spend their money is on their nonprofit: CoMeD, the Coalition for Mercury Free Drugs. Their 990 forms are avaiable on GuideStar.com:

    2009 Form 990
    2010 Form 990
    2011 Form 990

    In 2009, CoMeD was Mark Geier (President) and David Geier (VP). Mark Geier was paid $1000.

    In 2010 and 2011, the officers are:

    Mark Geier (Treasurer)
    David Geier (VP)
    Lisa Sykes (President)
    Paul King (Secretary)

    In 2010, officers were all paid $500 each. In 2011, officers were all paid $6,000 each.

    CoMeD brought in the following sums:
    2009: $12,693
    2010: $61,062
    2011: $121,217

    That’s a big jump. A factor of 10 increase in 2 years. Where does CoMeD spend their money? In 2009 they list one contributer (JB and Lisa Handley, of Generation Rescue) with a $5,000 donation. They don’t list contributers in 2010, but in 2011 the contributers are:

    ASD Centers, LLC: $103,915
    James and Wendy Abrams: $20,000
    Institute of Chronic Illness: $1,975
    MEDCON: $5,083.

    ASD Centers, Institute for Chronic Illness and MEDCON are all run by the Geiers. So, CoMeD is run by and mostly funded by the Geiers.

    Where do they spend their money? Let’s focus on 2011 as it is the largest budget:

    $44.6k on travel
    $34.8k was spent on legal fees.
    $24k on compensation of the officers.
    $17k on printing and publications.
    $15.3k on other professional services

    So, CoMeD apparently spends its money on flying the Geiers around and paying attorneys. Plus paying the Geiers small salary. But they are the primary donors so CoMeD is paying the Geiers their own money. Plus printing and publications.

    I would be very interested in seeing the details of these expenses. Especially considering how close inspection of expenses by the special masters in the vaccine court have routinely found strange accounting practices. The Geiers have been travelling to try to convince the U.N. to include a ban on thimerosal in vaccines in the global mercury treaty. They have brought lawsuits against two HHS secretaries (Leavitt and Sebelius. But did those require large legal fees? And that much travel? And publications? Their website certainly doesn’t cost much money. Perhaps there are flyers out there somewhere. Or, maybe, they are paying the publication charges for their papers?

    Bottom line: if you want to pay the Geiers to travel the world, pay attorneys and pay themselves, this could be the charitable contribution for you.


    By Matt Carey

    A look at the financials for Generation Rescue and the Strategic Autism Initiative

    15 Feb

    Generation Rescue is a well known charity with a focus on alternative therapies for autism and promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism. The Strategic Autism Initiative was formed by Andrew Wakefield after he left Thoughtful House (now the Johnson Center). Many of these organizations have close ties and, in fact, GR helped SAI get started with a $100k grant its first year.

    The most recent tax forms are from 2011 and are below:

    Generation Rescue IRS form 990Strategic Autism Initiative IRS form 990

    Generation Rescue pulls in a great deal of money, nearly $1.2M. Of which about $240k goes to the “rescue grant” program. About $125k goes to running their website. Another $125k to pay their executive director.

    Under grants, Generation Rescue (GR) has two:

    $25,000 to the Strategic Autism Initiative
    $20,000 to Jackson State University

    Both “for researching causes of autism”. We see again the link between GR and SAI. Jackson State is the institution engaged by Generation Rescue and the SAI to perform a vaccinated/unvaccinated study using homeschooled kids. I’ll point out that when I reviewed the GR and SAI tax forms last year, I speculated that they were starting to fund the vax/unvaxed study.

    Now consider the SAI’s form 990. SAI pulled in $284k. They paid out $250k in salaries and other compensations. Yep, 88% of intake went to salaries. Luckily they had a bit of a war chest from the year before to draw on. But let’s look at those salaries. Andrew Wakefield is compensated $200k/year for a reported 30hours/week. That’s $270k/year (his salary at Thoughtful House). Terri Arranga ( of AutismOne) was paid $28.8k for reported 15hours/week.

    But, as I said, they had a war chest from 2010 (due in big part to a $100k donation from GR). How did they spend that? Well, they appear to have a grant of $25k to Generation Rescue for “research related to the vax/unvax study”. Which strikes me odd as GR gave SAI $25k, so it looks like the money went in a circle.

    That said, what expenses did SAI report?

    $158k to Dr. “Lenys G. Gonzalez” to work with Arthur Krigsman and Stephen Walker on “molecular and clinical signatures of inflammatory bowel disease and adverse vaccine reactions in autistic children.”

    Lenny Gonzalez is a researcher in Venezuela who was funded by Wakefield at Thoughtful House in one of the supposed “independent” replications of Wakefield’s findings. Arthur Krigsman is a former colleague at Thoughful House, with a colorful history. Stephen Walker’s name comes up periodically in regards to a study he presented at IMFAR but never published which supposedly confirmed Andrew Wakefield’s finding of measles virus in intestinal tissues of autistics.

    $43k for a study on “vaccination status and health outcomes among homeschool children in the United States”, with Anthony Mawson of Jackson State. Mr. Mawson was named as the lead researcher for this project back when GR was seeking funding from money left over from a class action lawsuit to fund it.

    $86k for an “IRB approved” (are the others not?) investigation using the Florida Medicaid database. And, no surprise, this is to look at vaccines. (1) acute adverse reactions to vaccines as predictors of neurodevelopmental disorders and (2) age of vaccination and risk of adverse outcome.

    I am curious if the Florida project is the same one the Geiers were attempting to get pushed through approval a few years ago. A t that time a vaccine-causation focused chiropractor and heavy political donor was pushing both access to the Florida medical records and for things like changing a bill to improve access to services for families with autistic children into a vaccine bill.

    Many people might be wondering how Andrew Wakefield managed to gather half a million dollars in under two years. I can’t say for sure but I can put out some information for speculation.

    One of his board members is Elizabeth Avellan. She also serves on the board for Mr. Wakefield’s “Autism Trust”, which lists her accomplishments as including ” highly successful film producer and co owner of Trouble Maker studios “. Troublemaker Studios has the “Spy Kids” franchise.

    Another board member is Phil Rawlins. There was a Phil Rawlins in Austin who owned a soccer team. He has since moved to Florida.

    So whatever skills he had, Mr. Wakefield is basically now a fundraiser. He’s good at it, you gotta hand it to him. I can think of a lot of ways that money could be better spent, though.


    By Matt Carey