Chris Mooney, Sheril Kirshenbaum, Lori Kozlowski, Rosie Mestel, Thomas Maugh, David Gorski, Virginia Hughes, Science Journalists, The Dying of the LA Times and an Angry Autism Mom*
It details my earnest attempts to get through to these skeptics/science journalists, and an effort to point out that they are shooting themselves in the foot with their actions, and that our children are collateral damage in their efforts. Long story short... they are some pretty myopic people and not open to self-evaluation, so their tactics continue to loose them the vaccine/autism wars.
(*After I posted the piece, Dr. David "Orac" Gorski sent me a flattering email saying he had actually always respected me and asked me to remove the piece. When I declined, he let the insults fly again. So... not the most honest and straightforward guy.
A few months later, we learned that Gorski has spent the last several years developing a drug for vaccine maker Sanofi, which he had some how forgotten to mention in his hundreds of posts about these issues, so I do feel a bit the sucker for approaching him as if he was actually a somewhat disinterested party in this debate. Had I known I would not have wasted so many hours trying to have a real discussion with him, but live and learn I guess.)
I hope you will take the time to read it, especially if you are someone who believes the media on this issue and super especially if you are Matt Lauer, Anderson Coooper, George Stephanopolous or any other major news personality who has been handed a press release labeled "News" that was likely drafted in a Pharma conference room and told to get really angry at some guy named Andrew Wakefield.
Pharma Co and their emissaries have launched an extended (and what appears to be a) last ditch effort to bury the vaccine/autism story since the beginning of the year. Two books on how vaccine safety advocates are both ignorant and a threat to society, and an attempt to once again make Andrew Wakefield a scape goat and sacrifice him at the alter of the vaccine program. And, of course, various and sundry supporting pieces hither and yon from the usual players.
This is, of course, just more of the same transparent "killing the messenger" tactic that has been losing them the vaccine/autism wars for the last ten years. But since their only other choice is to admit there are problems in the vaccine program and address them, no doubt costing them billions of dollars and landing a few of them in jail, they have decided to die with their boots on while taking a few doctors, lots of parents and untold thousands of innocent children down with them. It is pretty clear that the vaccine bubble is now deflating, but they are pumping with all their might, influence and dollars to keep that thing inflated. They seem to be telling themselves... "there are just two big holes in this... Wakefield and McCarthy. If we can convince the public that Wakefield is a crook and use the "Nuts and Sluts" defense against McCarthy, we can plug them and our bubble can grow with no end in site!!"
Yet they are astonished that bubble is still deflating.
Because they have incorrectly diagnosed the bubble's aliments. The hundreds of thousands of pin holes in it. The epidemic of autism, add, asthma, diabetes, allergies, developmental disability and delay... and all those other neurological and autoimmune disorders running rampant in our children. And the millions of people who are seeing it happen to children they love... seeing how it points back to the vaccine program and other toxic injuries... coming to ask all those unanswered questions and discovering all those unsupportable safety claims.... and knowing that whether or not some doctor they never heard of in the UK is or is not a big fat liar, has nothing to do with their concerns. Nor do Jenny McCarthy's boobs.
But still PharmaKorp trudges on in their ineffectiveness.
But now they are working to enlist some high profile media types to adopt their attack dog tactics, and the little backfires that they have been experiencing in the vaccine safety debate circles are now becoming big backfires on a national level.
Last year before Wakefield's book "Callous Disregard" came out, PharmaKorp launched an out of the blue attack on him, and Matt Lauer was awful to him on the Today show. Rather than having the intended result of finishing off Andrew Wakefield (because yanking his license four months earlier during his previous public execution had not quite done the job), the assault put Wakefield's book on the Amazon top ten list and Lauer's popularity took a hit. The autism and vaccine safety communities were angry at the unfairness of his interview, and the wider public saw the assault on Wakefield as unprofessional and their suspicions were raised (and they clicked on Amazon). The tongue in cheek "Land of the Lost" tribute facebook group called, "Matt Lauer Can Suck It" was even taken over by people upset with Lauer about the interview, who proceeded to tell Matt Lauer that he could actually "Suck It".
Yet despite how badly these tactics bomb... over and over and over... THEY still just up the ante? Why?
Now they have dragged Anderson Cooper and George Stephanopulos into it. I am curious as to how they pull this off. I assumed that after the Nancy Snydermand/Matt Lauer tiff where she got mad at him for insisting that vaccines were still contriversal, that she brought down heat on Lauer at NBC and he was told to put the screws to Wakefield. After all, Lauer's ex wife is the mother of a child with autism who believes that vaccines and gut issues are a factor, and it is rumored that Lauer and his current wife selectively vaccinated their own children. Add in NBC/GE ownership of large medical corporations and you can see how that happens.
But what were the conversations that had to take place with Cooper and Stephanopulos to make them behave like jerks and go hard on Wakefield? Who is the person that talked to them to get them all hyped up? That kind of aggression and "combativeness", as Stephanopoulos admitted to engaging in, doesn't just come from no where. What were they told, and by who, that would make them stick their necks out this far on a story that they don't even follow?
When Shephard Smith got pissed at the Bush administration for stranding thousands of people in a sinking New Orleans, he was not sticking his neck out or making assumptions or taking the word of someone in another country that people in need were being neglected to their detriment. He was standing in the middle of them, filming an abandoned dead body. He had all the facts and knew he had the high ground. Anger justified.
But Lauer, Cooper and Stephanopoulos? They don't actually know jack. So how exactly were they tricked into making asses of themselves and losing the trust of some of their regular viewiers?
And why? At this point, every journalist who actually has a career to care about (not talking about writers with no serious credentials like Trine Tsouderos or Seth Mnookin who are brought into to write hit pieces that elevate their profile) must know that the public is taking this issue very, very seriously. Even if they think that there is nothing to the vaccine/autism debate, don't they wonder why despite all the stories that they see coming across their desk declaring the debate over... that it only grows? Does the last guy to do it even take a look at the outcome of the previous guys to do it? Did Stephanopoulos even check reaction to Cooper's interview to see how badly it went over? And if so, did he care that his went over even worse?
So the point of this whole piece that I am writing is to, once again, with feeling, declare to the Pharma stragetists and media heads out there who are attacking our community in order to defend their over-zealous, under tested and destructive vaccine program and its profits...
IT DOESN'T WORK!
It has never worked! It didn't work when you started it in the blogesphere, it didn't work in local news, it doesn't work in the national news.
It didn't work when Skeptico did it.
It didn't work when Orac did it.
It didn't work when Chris Mooney did it.
It didn't work when Sheril Kirshenbaum did it.
It didn't work when Lori Kozlowski did it.
It didn't work when Virginia Hughes did it.
It didn't work when Thomas Maugh did it.
It didn't work when Trine Tsouderos did it.
It didn't work when Gardier Harris did it.
It didn't work when Nancy Snyderman did it.
It has never worked when Paul Offit does it, as his new book,"Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All," is currently #8,277 on Amazon's best seller list.
And it is not working as Seth Mnookin is trying his hand at the same failing tactics that all his predecessors have failed with. His book kicking the vaccine safety community didn't break the #1000 mark and continues to slide.
And you guys have been hyping the hell out of those two books!
It didn't work when Lauer did it.
It didn't work when Stephaholopoulos did it.
It didn't even work when Cooper and his "national treasure" baby blues did it.
Whose up next? What media name will Pharma Co. forward scouts turn to next to expose the vicious murders that are vaccine safety advocates and parents of sick and dying children?
Or is the Old Stream Media taking note that doing Pharma Co's dirty work is only further hobbling their struggling industry by further eroding public trust in their reporting? Nah... probably not.
And what is the next story? A few months from now when this media push falls flat, parents are purchasing even fewer vaccines and Andrew Wakefield is still booking speaking engagements and publising, will he fail to return home from work one evening only to be "discovered" three days later, unconscious in a Mexican hotel room filled with cocaine and under aged prostitutes, by a vacationing Brian Deer who is coincidently on holiday in Cancun? Exactly how far do they plan on trying to get this Wakefield story to stretch?
Pharma Co, with all their in depth market strategery has to know that this tac is not working on the public and is only losing the public trust in vaccines. So have they just decided that the masses may be lost, but at least they can keep doctors and researchers from questioning the party line publicly by creating a hostile environment through the media crush? That is not working too well either, but I think that might be the last line that Pharma Co. is trying to hold in this war. Eventually docs get pissed at being told what to do and what to think, so we will see how long that one holds out.
Pharma... Brian Deer (with your allusions to Wakefield's severed hand crawling across the floor)... the reason Wakefield won't die is that... please pay attention... that there are no real bullets in your gun. You guys are just flicking pebbles at him. The guy published a paper that says children with autism sometimes have serious GI issues and that sometimes they both come on after MMR. This is hard to discredit as it is also the active policy of the Federal Government of the United States of America. CDC tells their docs to screen for GI issues upon suspecting an autism diagnosis, because gastrointestinal distress IS associated with autism. HHS lists the symptoms of autism as a reaction to the MMR and DTaP vaccines on their web site, and they have paid many children for MMR induced autism.
So you need to understand... if tomorrow you publish video of Andrew Wakefield robbing a 7-11 with an AK-47 and taking a crippled 8 year old girl as a hostage, while Jenny McCarthy drives the get away car... it is not going to solve your vaccine sales problem. Because the vaccine program is the problem. The people talking about the problems in the vaccine program are not the problem. Trying to shut them up or shut them down is not working.
Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield did not kill Elias Tembenis. The DTaP vaccine did.
Any route Pharma Co takes ends badly for them. The vaccine bubble is over. It is not bursting all at once, but as soon as SCOTUS renders their Bruesewitz decision, bubble starts deflating in earnest. Because either the law suits will start flying fast and furious, or the public will finally understand that if they have a vaccine injury, they are on their own.
Happy pumping Pharma.
Update: See... doesn't work.
Nearly Half of Americans Still Suspect Vaccine-Autism Link
18% don't trust measles-mumps-rubella shot, and 30% are undecided, Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll finds
By Amanda Gardner
Just a slim majority of Americans -- 52 percent -- think vaccines don't cause autism, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll found.
Conversely, 18 percent are convinced that vaccines, like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, can cause the disorder, and another 30 percent aren't sure.
The poll was conducted last week, following news reports that said the lead researcher of a controversial 1998 study linking autism to the MMR vaccine had used fraudulent research to come to his conclusion.
The poll also found that parents who have lingering doubts about the vaccine were less likely to say that their children were fully vaccinated (86 percent), compared to 98 percent of parents who believe in the safety of vaccines.
Still, the percentage of fully vaccinated children remains high, at 92 percent, the poll found.
"This sounds like a cup half-empty/cup half-full story," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. He noted that while the number of people who believe in a connection between vaccines and autism is "only 18 percent," that nonetheless translates to "millions and millions and millions of people, and it's clear that in some cases that has led them to not vaccinate their children."
Vaccine safety has been a major concern for many parents since the publication of the 1998 study, led by now disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield, which concluded that the MMR vaccine caused autism. The journal that originally published the study, The Lancet, has since retracted the paper and Wakefield was recently barred from practicing medicine in Britain.
In recent weeks, another leading British medical journal, BMJ, has published a series of articles purporting to expose deliberate fraud by Wakefield in his handling of the research that served as the basis for the 1998 study.
In the new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, 69 percent of respondents said they had heard about the theory that some vaccinations can cause autism.
But only half (47 percent) knew that the original Lancet study by Wakefield and other researchers had been retracted, and that some of that research is now alleged to be fraudulent.
"Forty-seven percent is a huge number and this is a relatively new thing [allegations of fraud], so it's remarkable that they have heard of it. But that still means that half the population has not," Taylor said.
Still, the retraction and allegations of fraud do seem to have influenced public perception. Among those who had been following the news about Wakefield, only 35 percent believed the vaccine-autism theory, compared to 65 percent who had not kept up to date on the latest developments.
"There seems to be reasonable support for vaccination and I think this will increase with the revelation that a lot of this stuff was based on fraud or bad science," said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
Overall, 69 percent of adults polled agreed that schools should require vaccinations -- including, interestingly, 52 percent of those who believe that autism might be connected to vaccinations.
Sixteen percent of all adults surveyed said they knew of at least one family whose children had not received all recommended vaccines due to concerns about autism. One-quarter of those who believed the vaccine-autism theory said they knew at least one family that had not fully vaccinated their children.
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which supports more research into the safety of vaccinations, said autism is just one concern linked to vaccines.
"Parents have legitimate questions about vaccine risks and want better vaccine science to define those risks for their own child," she said. "This concern long predated the debate about vaccines and autism. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was passed by Congress, in part, to address those concerns but has not done the job.
"The Harris poll points out the urgent need for a renewed effort to conduct new vaccine safety studies that are methodologically sound and free from real or perceived conflicts of interest," Fisher added, "or a significant portion of the public will continue to question the conclusions."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 110 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, part of a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
The Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 11-13, and included 2,026 adults over the age of 18. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
Read more about the poll methodology and findings at Harris Interactive.
Another Update: Seriously... not working.
Novartis Q4 profit down as vaccine demand drops
Jan 27, 2011 5:32 AM ET
By The Associated Press
GENEVA (AP) — Swiss drug maker Novartis AG saw fourth quarter net profit slip 2 percent on the year to $2.32 billion amid one-off charges and a sharp drop in demand for its pandemic flu vaccine, the company said Thursday.
Profit in the October-December period was hurt by one-time charges of $789 million, including restructuring costs in the U.S. and Germany — only partially offset by a one-time gain of $392 million, the pharmaceutical company said.
Revenue in the fourth quarter grew from $12.92 billion to $14.19 billion. However, the vaccine division suffered a 74 percent decline in sales to $361 million following the end of the pandemic flu in 2010, after sales for the flu vaccine totaled $1 billion a year earlier.
The maker of hypertension drug Diovan and anticancer treatment Glivec — known as Gleevec in the United States — said its 2010 full year sales were up by 14 percent to $50.62 billion, including $2.4 billion revenue from the full consolidation of eye care specialist Alcon, Inc.
Full year 2010 net profit was up to $8.45 billion from $9.96 billion a year earlier, the company, based in Basel, said.
"Novartis achieved excellent results in 2010 as all divisions contributed to above-market growth," Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez said.
The company's results were helped by 13 key product approvals and the breakthrough of the multiple sclerosis medication, Gilenya, which has also been launched in the U.S., he said.
Analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank said while Novartis' revenue is fully in line with market expectations, its net profit remained slightly below expectations.
In its outlook, Novartis said it expects sales to grow at constant currency rates by a "double-digit mark," and productivity gains to help improve margins while absorbing price cuts, generic competition and the loss of the pandemic flu vaccine sales.
The company's shares were trading lower on Switzerland's stock exchange Thursday morning, falling by 1.74 percent to 53.50 Swiss Francs ($56.71).