The four month study took four years to complete and cost the government in the ballpark of 25 million dollars. The sausage making that went into the creation of this monstrosity of a study became a main subject of David Kirby’s book, Evidence of Harm.
The reason it took so long and cost so much is that the simple version of the study found a significant correlation between thimerosal exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders, autism among them, so a lot of time and money had to go into figuring out a way to unfind the thing that no one wanted found in the first place.
Through FOIA requests, parents have been able to glean bits and pieces of what actually happened behind the scenes as Verstraeten’s creation grew from simple correlation study to the monster that was eventually published in 2004, but not much is known about his involvement in the project that bears his name after he left the CDC in June of 2000 to work for GlaxoSmithKlein, a manufacturer of thimerosal containing vaccines. The CDC has claimed that Verstraeten had no involvement in the study after leaving for GSK, for to do so would be a very serious conflict of interest.
Today we have yet more evidence that CDC has not been honest with us.
This week, in response to a FOIA request, an interested physician was sent these records. They are emails back and forth between Verstraeten and CDC employees in the summer of 2001, setting up a conference call on the thimerosal study, more than a year after he went to GSK.
The emails tell us nothing specific about the content of the discussion to take place, just that it was scheduled to take place on September 6th, 2001. The presumption is that the meeting took place, that Verstraeten was involved, and that the transcripts are out there somewhere.
It is my understanding that FOIA requests for these transcripts have already been filed. So stay tuned to see what they say.
That an employee of GSK was shaping a government safety study that could so profoundly impact its products and its bottom line is a serious breach. The Institute of Medicine relied heavily on the Verstraeten Study when it came to its 2004 opinion that thimerosal had no relationship to the development of autism and recommended that no further inquiry into the vaccine/autism be made. In turn, Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC, is currently proffering that now clearly erroneous 2004 opinion as evidence that there is no link between vaccines and autism.
The CDC gave the IOM a bad study to base their opinion on, and the IOM gave them back a bad opinion for the CDC to base their policy on. Current CDC vaccine policy and its safety claims are built on a house of cards and both the Verstraeten Study and the 2004 IOM opinion should be formally retracted.
It is long past time for open investigations and open hearings into all of the CDC’s misbehavior and mismanagement in this matter and I renew my call to Congress to begin proceedings with all due speed.
Witness number one to testify should be Thomas Verstraeten.
UPDATE: MJ points out:
Not that I disagree with you but I wanted to point out that Verstraeten did talk about being involved with discussions after he left.
This is from a letter to the editor published from Verstraeten in Pediatrics in April 2004:
"Although I have been involved in some of the discussions concerning additional analyses that were undertaken after my departure from the CDC, I did not perform any of these additional analyses myself, nor did I instigate them."
It will be interesting to see the transcript of the conference call to see how heavily he influenced the direction of the 'analyses'.
But really it doesn't matter. Ethical lines are drawn for a reason, just crossing them a tiny bit is still crossing them.