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Friday, February 25, 2005

A Mercury Muddle

By Melissa Ross
First Coast News

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL -- A bright, bubbly child, articulate and well-behaved, with a shock of red hair and adorable freckles, six-year-old Grant Walchle may remind people old enough to remember of Ron Howard's precocious "Opie" from an Andy Griffith rerun.

Looking at Grant, it's hard to believe he was diagnosed several years ago along the autism spectrum. "We couldn't take him anywhere," says his mother, Marie. "There were times I would almost call his behavior psychotic."

Grant has improved greatly, thanks to a special diet that includes no wheat or dairy products, along with special supplements and behavioral therapy.

"But his biggest problem," says his mother, "is mercury."

Mercury, that toxic metal at the center of the raging autism debate. What causes the disorder, now said to affect 1 in every 166 American children?

Many parents believe their kids' autism is actually mercury poisoning, in the form of routine vaccinations that until recently contained the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. Mercury exposure has been linked in some studies to neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Government officials and many mainstream scientists and physicians adamantly deny a link, saying no study has definitively settled the issue. Several wide-ranging epidemiological studies focusing on thimerosal have found no link to autism.

But parents like Walchle, armed with charts of their children’s' blood work showing their bodies harbor high heavy metal levels, are turning to new, often expensive, biomedical treatments. Some are controversial. Grant is about to start undergoing chelation therapy, which will strip the mercury from his system.

As the Los Angeles Times recently reported, officials at drug maker Merck and Co., Inc., knew as early as 1991 that thimerosal had the potential to harm. An internal memo leaked to the Times expressed alarm that babies were being exposed to dangerously high mercury levels. The memo notes some babies were being injected with mercury "up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish."

New York Times contributor David Kirby wades directly into the mercury muddle with his new book, "Evidence of Harm," which explores the potential role of the substance in the autism epidemic.

In an interview with First Coast News, Kirby said it's important to get to the bottom of the debate once and for all. "I'm not saying thimerosal causes autism. I'm saying there's evidence to suggest it might."

Politicians are weighing in, too, and here the tale gets even murkier. California and Iowa have already passed thimerosal bans, and nine other states are considering similar legislation.

But those bills might be made null and void by Congress. Lawmakers are now considering Senate Bill 3, which is titled "Protecting America in the War On Terror Act of 2005."

The legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, would increase death benefits for the families of soldiers in Iraq. But according to Jacksonville attorney Alan Pickert, it would also provide sweeping protection to pharmaceutical companies and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Pickert is representing several dozen First Coast families who are petitioning the government for compensation over thimerosal.

"This bill would deny them any recourse in state or federal court," Pickert says. "How are we protecting America in the war on terror when we can't even protect our own kids?"

As the battle rages in the halls of science and Congress, parents are waging war on another front - fighting to bring their kids back from autism. More and more, they're succeeding.

"My son is a completely different child today," says Marie Walchle. "My hope is to let parents out there know that there is treatment available."

Created: 2/25/2005 7:01:32 PM
Updated: 3/1/2005 2:16:29 PM
Edited by Melissa Ross, Reporter
© 2004-2005 First Coast News

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No Evidence Flu Jabs Work for Under-2s - Study

Patricia Reaney

There is no evidence that vaccinating children under 2 years old against influenza reduces deaths or complications from the illness, researchers said on Friday.

They reviewed 25 studies that looked at the impact of vaccines in cutting the number of cases of influenza and its symptoms in children up to 16.

Children under 2 are vaccinated against flu in the United States and Canada.

"Immunization of very young children is not lent support by our findings," said Dr Tom Jefferson, of the Cochrane Vaccines Field in Rome, part of the international Cochrane Collaboration that evaluates medical research.

"We recorded no convincing evidence that vaccines can reduce mortality, admissions, serious complications and community transmission of influenza," he added in a report in The Lancet medical journal.

Influenza vaccine campaigns are usually targeted at people over 65.

U.S. and Canadian health officials have recommended that children aged 6-23 months should also be immunized.

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines, saying healthy babies under 2 should be routinely immunized against the virus. It followed recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Each year, influenza kills an average of 36,000 Americans and puts 114,000 in hospital.

"In young children below the age of 2, we could find no evidence that the vaccine was different from a placebo," Jefferson told Reuters.

He added that the findings do not mean vaccinations do not work in young children but they found no evidence that it does. There was no indication the vaccines caused any harm or reason to believe they were unsafe.

The findings are part of a bigger Cochrane Review expected to be released later this year.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Autism = Mercury Poisoning - A Mothers Story

by Evelyn Pringle

Last year Mother Jones published an excellent article that reported on the autism epidemic. Today, one child in 166 is diagnosed with autism. In addition, one child in 6 now also requires special education services.

There is a now well-documented theory that this epidemic is actually a result of mercury poisoning. Mercury that was used as a preservative in childhood vaccinations and injected into children over the past 15 years. The preservative basically served one purpose, to boost drug company profits by allowing them to package bulk amounts of vaccines in containers rather than packaging each vaccine separately.

Records and reports obtained with FOIA requests over the past several years, prove that our government has known about this mercury poisoning since at least 1999, and the FDA and CDC hid the results of the studies and allowed the drug companies to continue to inject the poison into our children.

In fact, not much has been said about the matter period. I myself knew nothing about it until about a month ago. Unlike the drug companies who's only interest is in profits and avoiding lawsuits, some people believe the mainstream press refuses to give this subject the notoriety it deserves, in part, due to fears that panic could lead to public avoidance of vaccinations which could potentially lead to outbreaks of disease.

Nancy and Tim Hokkanen are the parents of Andy, a 6 year-old son who is recovering from mercury poisoning.

Nancy wrote to me and said, "I write in the hopes that you or someone you know may bring this story further into the light." I asked Nancy to answer a number of questions so I could relay what its like to have a child diagnosed with autism so that I could alert other people to the travesty that has been perpetrated on our country's greatest resource, our children and grandchildren.

Nancy testified before a Minnesota Senate committee hearing on mercury on Feb 1, 2005. Her story is typical of the many others that have been relayed to me over the past month. Here are Nancy's own words.

My 6-year-old son Andy is recovering from mercury poisoning. Two years ago tests of his hair, blood, urine and stool revealed toxic levels of mercury, copper, and other metals. The results were verified by two clinics and a PhD biochemist.

Andy was exposed in utero from my tooth fillings, which are 50% mercury, and from RhoGam shots for Rh factor incompatibility. After birth he received Thimerosal from routine childhood vaccinations.

Shortly after Andy’s birth I noticed some developmental problems, but their significance was not clear until after I read about the effects of mercury.

At 6 months of age, my son quit saying "mama" and his vocalizations became inarticulate. He spoke no more words until 14 months. He had trouble swallowing thin rice cereal, he gagged often, and had chronically loose stools.

At 18 months Andy’s behavior became very strange and wild. Over the next two years he began scripting, perseverating, obsessing and raging.

At age 3, he almost flunked out of a Christian preschool; it took most of one aide’s time to keep him in the room and on task.

During that time Andy was given the psychological diagnosis of autism by Minneapolis Public Schools special education department, and Fraser Child and Family Center, an autism treatment organization.

In June 2002 a neurologist prescribed Adderal for my son without first running tests. My son became psychotic. For four days by mid-afternoon he had to be held down in a dark quiet room while he screamed himself limp.

Next the neurologist prescribed Ritalin, saying, "Usually if one drug doesn't work, the other one does." My instincts told me that this was another disaster in the making, so I quit seeing that neurologist and began reading studies. Then I learned that Adderall enhances levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine, which in my son were already high.

I began doing my own research on the Internet, turning up repeated references implicating mercury toxicity with autism. The theory was promoted by chemistry experts such as Boyd Haley, PhD and Andrew Hall Cutler, PhD. I saw a study by entitled "Autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning," which documented about 100 matching symptoms.

In November 2002 when my son was 4-1/2, we had tests of hair, blood, urine and stool samples run by HRI+Pfeiffer Treatment Center of Warrenville, Illinois. Results came in mid-December indicating mercury toxicity and high levels of copper and other metals, and various nutritional insufficiencies.

Within 2 weeks of supplementing Vitamin B-6, zinc, manganese and magnesium, our son showed drastic improvements in mood, behavior and abilities. We had an almost-normal Christmas without tantrums and bizarre behavior.

The next year in kindergarten my son spent half time in a mainstream class, and half time in the autism classroom. This year for first grade he spends most of his time mainstreamed.

My husband's health insurance has covered the cost of behavioral therapy at Fraser. For about 9 months we were on Medical Assistance.

We estimate that our insurance company was billed about $100,000 for therapy. However we never noticed any drastic improvement until we began biomedical treatment, which has cost about $2,000. Strangely, our insurance company wouldn't cover the costs of those medical tests.

Nowadays Andy is happy, social, creative, intuitive. This, from a child who at 4 engaged only in parallel play, and refused to hold a crayon. He reads 140 words a minute.

My son hears me talk about mercury a lot, because I have been trying to get information on mercury toxicity to physicians, teachers, legislators, and parents. Last summer he asked, “Mommy, is there something wrong with me?”

I told him, “No, you just have a little too much mercury in you and we’re trying to get it out.” I said that grownups have a problem when they don’t clean up their messes. Sometimes grownups don’t take the time to read and learn about important things, or they decide to look the other way.

Recently I saw a press release from the Mayo Clinic regarding an epidemiological study of autistic children from Olmstead County. I wondered why no one tested those children for the presence of mercury and other toxic heavy metals.

I view society’s failure to restrict mercury use as a form of “fatal entrenchment” --when an unhealthy practice or norm is allowed to continue simply because it has been done that way for so long. But we should not let our desire to disprove an unpleasant theory keep children from having the chance for a normal life.

Nancy told me that most children are far worse off mentally and physically than her son. That he is perhaps one of the highest functioning on the scale, which gives her more time and energy to pursue advocacy.

She says, "Because other people wrote about the autism/mercury link, I was able to get my son properly tested and give nutritional supplementation. He is now mainstreamed into first grade, and his reading speed has gone from 81 wpm to 140 since September. Other so-called "autistic" kids deserve this chance at a normal life."

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government

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Bush Should Pay For Treatment Of Autism

By Evelyn Pringle

Why would government regulatory agencies deliberately deceive the American public by hiding the results of a study conducted in 1999, that proved there was a direct link between autism and the mercury-based preservative, Thirmosal, contained in childhood vaccines?

When this matter was first brought to my attention, that was the 64 thousand dollar question for me. But it didn't take too long to find the answer. There are a number of reasons that could be cited, but the main reason is money.

At first the motive for hiding the autism-Thirmosal link was to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical companies that would be lost if the preservative had to be removed from the vaccines. However by now, it is concern over the amount of money the industry, and possibly the government agencies they conspired with to conceal the results of the study, are going to be forced to pay out in damages for injuring the brains of millions of innocent children.

The stakes are high for the FDA and the CDC. If a thimerosal-autism link can be firmly established, which definitely appears likely, it may bring litigation against both agencies, as well as the individual researchers and officials within their ranks.

Blatant Conflicts Of Interest

Conflicts of interest between the pharmaceutical industry and representatives of the FDA and CDC are widespread. More often than not, the researchers, members of advisory committees, and agency officials charged with deciding whether drugs should be approved as safe and effective, are in some way benefiting from drug company money.

In 1999, the Committee on Government Reform initiated an investigation into Federal vaccine policy. Their 8 month investigation focused on conflicts of interest on the part of Federal policy-makers. Committee staff conducted an extensive review of financial disclosure forms and interviewed key officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, including the FDA and CDC.

The staff report that was issued, focused on two advisory committees utilized by Federal regulators to provide expert advice on vaccine policy: (1) The FDAs vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC); and (2) The CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP).

The VRBPAC advises the FDA on the licensing of new vaccines, while the ACIP advises the CDC on guidelines to be issued to doctors and the states for the proper use of vaccines.

The Government Reform Committee determined that conflict of interest rules employed by the FDA and the CDC were weak, enforcement was lax, and advisory committee members with substantial ties to drug companies have been given waivers to participate in committee proceedings. The specific problems identified in the staff report included:

' The CDC routinely grants waivers from conflict of interest rules to every member of its advisory committee.

' CDC Advisory Committee members who are not allowed to vote on certain recommendations due to financial conflicts of interest are allowed to participate in committee deliberations and advocate specific positions.

' The Chairman of the CDCs advisory committee until recently owned 600 shares of stock in Merck, a pharmaceutical company with an active vaccine division.

' Members of the CDCs advisory committee often fill out incomplete financial disclosure statements, and are not required to provide the missing information by CDC ethics officials.

' Four out of eight CDC advisory committee members who voted to approve guidelines for the rotavirus vaccine in June 1998 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.

' 3 out of 5 FDA advisory committee members who voted to approve the rotavirus vaccine in December 1997 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.

A four-month investigation by United Press International, determined that members of the CDC's Vaccine Advisory Committee received financial benefits from vaccine makers. Relationships included: sharing a vaccine patent; owning stock in a vaccine company; payments for research; getting money to monitor manufacturer vaccine tests; and funding academic departments. UPI also found that under a 1980 law, the CDC had 28 licensing agreements with companies, and one university, for vaccines or vaccine-related products. In addition, the CDC had eight on-going projects to collaborate on new vaccines.

A prime example of the conflicts of interest is Dr Paul Offit. He held a patent on a rotavirus vaccine and received a grant of $350,000 from Merck to develop the vaccine. He was also paid by the pharmaceutical industry to travel around the country and teach doctors that vaccines are safe. Offit was a member of the CDCs advisory committee and voted on three rotavirus issues, including the recommendation of adding the rotavirus vaccine to the Vaccines for Children's program

According to some accounts, the cost of developing a new vaccine can cost half a billion dollars, which explains why a tight relationship with the CDC is priceless. An approval by the regulatory agency guarantees a market for a new vaccine, and under a 1986 law, CDC approval limits a drugmaker's liability for side effects. Adverse Effects Known For Years

A recently discovered internal memo from the drug company, Merck, substantiates what many parents of autistic children have long suspected. The drug companies, and later the CDC and FDA, knew mercury caused autism, and decided profits were more important than protecting a generation of children against brain damage.

The LA Times recently reported that Merck knew the overuse of mercury in their vaccines posed a dangerous health threat to children. The Times cited a 1991 memo issued by Merck that said that 6-month-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish.

A copy of the memo was provided to attorneys for Vera Easter, a Texas woman who blames thimerosal for the condition of her 7-year-old son, Jordan, who is autistic and mentally retarded. That lawsuit is pending in US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The defendants include Merck and its rival vaccine makers, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis Pasteur Inc. and Wyeth; and thimerosal developer Eli Lilly & Co.

The disclosure of Merck's findings in 1991, could have prevented millions of children from the damage caused by the poisonous vaccines. According to the House Committee on Government Reform in April 2003, "Because the FDA chose not to recall thimerosal-containing vaccines in 1999, in addition to all of those already injured, 8,000 children a day continued to be placed at risk for overdose for at least an additional two years," its report concluded. Think how many children that adds up to if we go back to1991.

This elapsed time may be extremely damaging when it comes to lawsuits. If federal officials had ordered the removal of thimerosal by a specific date, there would be a clear date by which to measure whether exposure to the preservative caused neurological damage. As it stands now, with the beginning of the a clear association detected in 2004, a full assessment of the damage in many cases, may not be possible until late 2008 or even 2009.

Bush & Company Move To Protect Drug Companies

Bush and his Republicans puppets in congress have been working non-stop to keep the public from finding out about the gross misconduct of the drug companies and officials in the FDA and CDC. Just last month, senate bill s.3, was introduced by Senator Bill Frist, that would protect drug makers from vaccine-related litigation. This bill is the fifth piece of legislation that Frist has tried to pass to shield drug companies. Parents believe that the bill, like all others introduced by Frist, is part of the overall plot to obstruct efforts to uncover more documentation that might help explain what happened to their children.

Its not to hard to figure out why Frist has taken the lead and keeps trying to pass these laws. According to a public watchdog service, opensecrets.org, since 1997, he has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from drug companies. However, Frist got small potatoes compared to Bush. With Bush we're talking millions. This latest attempt to pass new legislation proves one thing, the pharmaceutical industry is demanding repayment in full.

However, its not going to work. This situation has become a public health nightmare that will cost billions of dollars to fix. And one thing is for sure, it is not going to get better as time goes by. Republicans need to focus their legislative efforts on a bill that will require vaccine makers to pay to help these children get well, to whatever extent possible.

These children have been poisoned for life and each and every person involved in concealing the dangers that caused the injuries must be held accountable.

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Vaccine-bill backers hopeful of chances

Parents, sponsors optimistic Legislature will pass measure banning mercury from shots

Susan Redden
The Joplin Globe

CARTHAGE, Mo. - Sponsors and supporters of a bill that would ban a mercury agent from childhood vaccines hope the measure will be passed by Missouri lawmakers during this legislative session.

"We think the chances are excellent because the science is there," said Lujene Clark, of Carthage.

Clark and her husband, Alan, have been lobbying for passage of laws in Missouri and other states that would ban thimerosal, a preservative that contains mercury, from childhood vaccines.

Alan Clark will be among those testifying Wednesday during hearings before Senate and House committees.

Lujene Clark said that Roy Holand, a physician and former legislator from Springfield, also will speak, along with several other parents.

Holand last session sponsored a thimerosal-banning bill that was approved in the House by a vote of 152-4. The measure was unanimously endorsed by a Senate committee, but failed to reach a Senate vote after it fell victim to a filibuster on the last day of the session.

Rep. Robert Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, also a physician and sponsor of the House legislation this year, said the measure's chances are "excellent.

"An identical bill passed the House last year, and I don't see why it won't again," he said.

Lujene Clark said there is bipartisan support in the Senate, where bills have been introduced by Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield, and Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau.

"Senator Charles Wheeler (a Kansas City Democrat and a physician) also has told us he agrees with the bill," she said.

The Clarks have been lobbying for legislation banning thimerosal since they found what they say is a growing amount of research that links mercury in vaccines to disorders including attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, Asperger syndrome and autism.

The Clarks' son, Devon, now 9, was diagnosed in 2001 with ADHD and in 2003 with Asperger syndrome, often described as high-functioning autism.

The couple, who met with researchers and underwent training for parents of children with autism, say Devon's problems started and accelerated as he received routine childhood vaccinations.

His problems worsened dramatically, they say, after he received a flu shot, administered because of an asthma condition.

For about the past year, Devon has been undergoing treatments to remove mercury from his system. His performance at school has improved, he no longer takes medicine for Asperger syndrome or asthma, and he rarely has to use an inhaler, Lujene Clark said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which sets vaccine requirements for the United States, rejects any link between the preservative and autism or other disorders. Vaccine manufacturers also reject any link, but Lujene Clark points to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times that said the level of mercury in vaccines was a concern, as early as 1991, of executives with drug giant Merck & Co.

The newspaper cited a March 1991 memo by a Merck executive that said 6-year-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish.

Federal health officials in 1999 disclosed that many infants were being exposed, through routine vaccinations, to mercury above health guidelines. Thimerosal has been removed from most pediatric vaccines in recent years.

The Clarks lobbied for laws banning thimerosal in Iowa and California, where measures have been passed and signed into law.

"We're not against vaccines; we know vaccines are important," Lujene Clark said. "What we want are safe vaccines."

This year, in addition to the Missouri bill, the couple are working on or helping other parents with similar legislation in Nebraska, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

Lujene Clark also is hosting a weekly program on Autism One, an Internet radio operation.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Speech on the House Floor Concerning Thimerosal and Mercury in Childhood Vaccinations

Congressman Dan Burton (IN-5)

Thank you, Mr. speaker.

Mr. speaker, over the past four or five years I have -- as chairman of the Government Reform Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Health and Human Rights I held a number of hearings regarding mercury in vaccines and what kind of impact it had on children. When we first started having the hearings we were concerned that there was a epidemic of autism and other neurological disorders in children and we found from scientists who testified before the committee over the years that there was no doubt that one of the major contributing factors to neurological problems, including autism among children, was the mercury in vaccines under the title of Thimerosal. Thimerosal is a preservative which contains 50% Ethel mercury. And as children got more and more vaccinations, as many as thirty now before they start in the first grade, the incidents of neurological disorders, autism, and other childhood mental problems grew dramatically. It used to be one in 10,000 children were autistic according to the Center for Disease Control. Now it's one in 150. We have an absolute epidemic of autism. Now the pharmaceutical companies for years have said that there is no correlation between the mercury in vaccines and the autism and other neurological childhood disorders and things like Alzheimer’s in adults. But this past week on the front page, the front page of the "Los Angeles Times" there was a very, very long article. And I want to read to you, Mr. speaker, some of the things that were in that article.

The title of the article was “’91memo warned of mercury in vaccines and shots.” The march 1991 memo obtained by he Times showed that nearly a decade before our federal health agency first publicly exposed the potential dangers of mercury vaccines, senior executives from Merck & Company, a major pharmaceutical company, were already aware that infants were getting an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations containing the widely used preservative Thimerosal, a preservative containing nearly 50% mercury by weight. In fact, the memo clearly states, quote, “If eight doses of Thimerosal containing vaccine were given in the first six months of life, the mercury given, say to an average sized infant of 12 pounds, would be 87 times the daily allowance of mercury for a baby of that size.” 87 times! The memo further states, it is reasonable to conclude that Thimerosal should be removed from single dose vials, when it can be removed, especially where use in infants and young children is anticipated.

At the time this memo was written the U.S. health authorities were recommending an aggressive expansion of the immunizations schedule for children in the first six months of life, adding five new shots to the schedule and many of these shots, as well as those already included in the vaccine immunization schedule, contain mercury and Thimerosal. What did the pharmaceutical company do after learning this? They did nothing. Absolutely nothing! It took eight years before they started removing Thimerosal from any of the children’s vaccines.

It is criminal in my opinion that this sort of thing takes place. Mercury in any vaccination, whether it’s a child’s vaccination or an adult’s vaccination, should be removed. Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on earth. It’s toxic to the neurological system of adults and especially infants. And yet children have been getting 30 vaccinations, as many as 30, before they start in the first grade of school, and we have an absolute epidemic of neurological problems including autism.

Mr. speaker, I want to submit this article for the record. I’m going to send a Dear Colleague around to all my colleagues, and I hope everybody, and my good friend the gentlelady from California who has been working with me on this for a long time, I hope that everybody will pay attention and talk to their pharmaceutical representatives and get mercury out of all vaccinations but especially every childhood vaccination. The future of America depends on that because these children are going to grow up. They are going to become dependent upon the taxpayer and it’s going to cost all of us trillions of dollars if we don’t deal with the problem now.

Thank you, Mr. speaker. I yield back the balance of my time.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

'91 Memo Warned of Mercury in Shots

By Myron Levin
LA Times

A memo from Merck & Co. shows that, nearly a decade before the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned that infants were getting an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent.

The March 1991 memo, obtained by The Times, said that 6-month-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish.

"When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large," said the memo from Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, an internationally renowned vaccinologist. It was written to the president of Merck's vaccine division.

The memo was prepared at a time when U.S. health authorities were aggressively expanding their immunization schedule by adding five new shots for children in their first six months. Many of these shots, as well as some previously included on the vaccine schedule, contained thimerosal, an antibacterial compound that is nearly 50% ethyl mercury, a neurotoxin.

Federal health officials disclosed for the first time in 1999 that many infants were being exposed to mercury above health guidelines through routine vaccinations. The announcement followed a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that was described at the time as a first effort to assess the cumulative mercury dose.

But the Merck memo shows that at least one major manufacturer was aware of the concern much earlier.

"The key issue is whether thimerosal, in the amount given with the vaccine, does or does not constitute a safety hazard," the memo said. "However, perception of hazard may be equally important."

Merck officials would not discuss the contents of the memo, citing pending litigation.

Separately, the drug giant is trying to fend off a legal onslaught over Vioxx, the popular painkiller it introduced in 1999. The company, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., faces hundreds of lawsuits claiming that the drug caused heart problems and that Merck concealed the risks. Merck, which in September pulled Vioxx off the market, has denied the allegations. The legacy of thimerosal, meanwhile, also is causing problems for Merck and other drug companies.

More than 4,200 claims have been filed in a special federal tribunal, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, by parents asserting that their children suffered autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders from mercury in vaccines. A handful of similar claims are awaiting trial in civil courts.

The plaintiffs cite various scientific studies that they say prove the dangers of thimerosal, including at the levels found in vaccines.

Thimerosal has been largely removed from pediatric vaccines in recent years in what health officials have described as a precautionary measure.

(This has been accomplished as drug makers have voluntarily switched from multi-dose vials of vaccine, which require a chemical preservative like thimerosal, to single-dose containers.) In September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation prohibiting vaccines with more than trace amounts of thimerosal from being given to babies and pregnant women. Iowa has a similar ban.

For their part, Merck and other vaccine makers, along with many government health officials and scientists, say there is no credible evidence of harm from the amounts of mercury once widely present in kids' shots. They cite a report in May by a committee of the national Institute of Medicine concluding that the evidence "favors rejection of a causal relationship" between vaccines and autism.

The seven-page Merck memo was provided to The Times by James A. Moody, a Washington lawyer who works with parent groups on vaccine safety issues.

He said he obtained it from a whistle-blower whom he would not name. The memo provides the "first hard evidence that the companies knew - or at least Merck knew - that the children were getting significantly more mercury" than the generally accepted dose, the lawyer said.

He also provided a copy to attorneys for Vera Easter, a Texas woman who blames thimerosal for the condition of her 7-year-old son, Jordan, who is autistic and mentally retarded. The Easter lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The defendants include Merck; rival vaccine makers GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis Pasteur Inc. and Wyeth; and thimerosal developer Eli Lilly & Co.

Easter's lawyer, Andy Waters, described the memo as "incredibly damning and incredibly significant." After receiving it in the fall, he confronted Merck lawyers about why he hadn't seen it earlier.

In a letter to Waters in October, Merck attorneys said they had in fact made available 32 boxes of records, but that the copying service hired by the plaintiffs for some reason had failed to copy several of the boxes - including the one with the Hilleman memo.

"The memo," said company spokeswoman Mary Elizabeth Blake, "was produced voluntarily by Merck in the ordinary course of discovery proceedings."

Hilleman is a former senior vice president of Merck who developed numerous vaccines for the company. A 1999 profile in the Philadelphia Inquirer said that "it is no exaggeration to assert, as many scientists do, that Maurice Hilleman has saved more lives than any other living scientist."

Hilleman, 85, currently director of the Merck Institute for Vaccinology, had officially retired and was a consultant to Merck when he wrote the '91 memo. He declined to be interviewed.

The memo was sent to Dr. Gordon Douglas, then head of Merck's vaccine division and now a consultant for the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health. Douglas also declined to comment. The memo stated that regulators in several countries had raised concerns about thimerosal, including in Sweden, where the chemical was being removed from vaccines.

"The public awareness has been raised by the sequential wave of experiences in Sweden including mercury exposure from additives, fish, contaminated air, bird deaths from eating mercury-treated seed grains, dental amalgam leakage, mercury allergy, etc.," the memo said.

It noted that Sweden had set a daily maximum allowance of mercury from fish of 30 micrograms for a 160-pound adult, roughly the same guideline used by the FDA. Adjusting for the body weight of infants, Hilleman calculated that babies who received their shots on schedule could get 87 times the mercury allowance.

The Swedish and FDA guidelines work out to about four-tenths of a microgram of mercury per kilogram of body weight. A stricter standard of one-tenth of a microgram per kilogram has been adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency and endorsed by the National Research Council.

These standards are based on methyl mercury, the type found in fish and airborne emissions from power plants. Though toxic, the ethyl mercury in thimerosal may be less hazardous than methyl mercury, some scientists say, because it is more quickly purged from the body.

"It appears essentially impossible, based on current information, to ascertain whether thimerosal in vaccines constitutes or does not constitute a significant addition to the normal daily input of mercury from diverse sources," the memo said.

"It is reasonable to conclude" that it should be eliminated where possible, he said, "especially where use in infants and young children is anticipated."

In the U.S., however, thimerosal continued to be added throughout the '90s to a number of widely used pediatric vaccines for hepatitis B, bacterial meningitis, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

It was added to multi-dose vials of vaccine to prevent contamination from repeated insertion of needles to extract the medicine. It was not needed in single-dose vials, but most doctors and clinics preferred to order vaccine in multi-dose containers because of the lower cost and easier storage.

The Hilleman memo said that unlike regulators in Sweden and some other countries, "the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . does not have this concern for thimerosal."

A turning point came in 1997 when Congress passed a bill ordering an FDA review of mercury ingredients in food and drugs.

Completed in 1999, the review revealed the high level of mercury exposure from pediatric vaccines and raised a furor. In e-mails later released at a congressional hearing, an FDA official said health authorities could be criticized for "being 'asleep at the switch' for decades by allowing a potentially hazardous compound to remain in many childhood vaccines, and not forcing manufacturers to exclude it from new products." It would not have taken "rocket science" to add up the amount of exposure as the prescribed number of shots was increasing, one of the e-mails said.

While asserting that there was no proof of harm, the U.S. Public Health Service in July 1999 called on manufacturers to go mercury-free by switching to single-dose vials. Soon after, Merck introduced a mercury-free version of its hepatitis B vaccine, replacing the only thimerosal-containing vaccine it was still marketing at the time, a company spokesman said.

By 2002, thimerosal had been eliminated or reduced to trace levels in nearly all childhood vaccines. One exception is the pediatric flu vaccine made by Aventis and still sold mainly in multi-dose vials.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Bush Administration Knew Childhood Vaccines Cause Autism

by Evelyn Pringle

Vaccines are the only drugs that American children are mandated to receive. Although it may be true that state governments mandate vaccines, the decision to mandate a vaccine is based on the recommendations of Federal advisory committees. In the interest of public safety, Congress has a duty to ensure that advisory committee members involved in vaccine policy making are not improperly influenced by conflicts of interest.

In recent years, public trust in the Federal policymaking related to vaccines causing Autism has been broken by the practice of ignoring obvious conflicts of interest. At this point, immediate action by Congress is necessary to restore public confidence in the safety of childhood vaccinations.
Is There A Link Between Childhood Vaccines And Autism?

Is there a connection? I'll let readers judge for themselves.

Mercury is a toxic metal that can cause immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioral dysfunctions similar to traits defining or associated with autism.

Thimerosal is an organic mercury compound. It is metabolized to ethylmercury and thiosalicylate and has been used since the 1930s as a preservative in many vaccines and pharmaceutical products to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination.

On Feb 9, 2004, the National Autism Association issued a press release that reported on one of the larger studies under review based on the Center for Disease Control's own Vaccine Safety Datalink. The release reported that under independent investigation, CDC's data concludes children are 27-times more likely to develop autism after exposure to three thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs), than those who receive thimerosal-free versions.

Think about it, twenty-seven times more likely to develop autism. Then consider this, our government had this data for years, but deliberately kept it hidden. This conduct was not due to negligence or laziness, it was a deliberate cover-up. All those involved should be criminally charge, prosecuted and punished.

The children who were affected by this cover-up will require care and support for their entire life. These children’s lives have been destroyed. The costs to their parents will reportedly exceed $2 million dollars per child. Justice will not be served until these mercury poisoned kids and their parents get everything necessary to make the most of their lives.

The criminals involved better get out there checkbooks, now!
What Did They Know & When Did They Know It?

Thimerosal is composed of nearly 50% mercury, which is a known to be especially harmful to fetuses, infants and children. It has been linked to a range of symptoms jointly known as Autism Spectrum Disorders. At one end of the spectrum is severe autism, in which children are socially withdrawn, do not speak and exhibit bizarre, repetitive, and sometimes aggressive behavior. At the other end, are Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Thimerosal was regularly added to childhood vaccines as a preservative, and became a major source of mercury in infants and toddlers. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, within the first two years of life, fully vaccinated children received mercury levels that exceeded long-established safety limits by the FDA and other agencies.

However, the focus did not zero in on thimerosal until 1997, when Congress passed the FDA Modernization Act, which required the FDA to investigate all drugs that contained mercury to determine their adverse effects on humans.

Within one year, the FDA called for the removal of all over-the-counter products that contained thimerosal. However, the preservative was still included in more than 50 vaccines until the Public Health Service (which includes the FDA, CDC and NIH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in July 1999 “urging” vaccine manufacturers to reduce or remove Thimerosal because of “theoretical potential for neurotoxicity.”

So we know by the action taken by the FDA in 1999 that our government definitely knew about the dangers related to the preservative. But we also know this because the staff for Rep Dan Burton (R-Ill) obtained an incriminating FDA internal e-mail written on June 29, 1999, by former FDA scientist Peter Patriarca, which offered a “pros and cons” assessment of the Thimerosal statement about to be issued at that time, and listed the questions and issues that would be raised upon its release:

(1) FDA being “asleep at the switch” for decades, by allowing a potentially hazardous compound to remain in many childhood vaccines, and not forcing manufacturers to exclude it from new products. (2) Various advisory bodies aggressive recommendations for use. (3) The dose of ethyl mercury was not generated by “rocket science”: conversion of the % of Thimerosal to actual ug [micrograms] of mercury involves 9th grade algebra. (4) What took the FDA so long to do the calculations? (5) Why didn’t CDC and the advisory bodies do these calculations while rapidly expanding the childhood immunization schedule?

So the experts in the FDA and CDC definitely knew about the dangers. However, an article published on In These Times.com on Nov 11, 2003, raised an interesting question: “If the CDC and FDA seemed to acknowledge the risks of Thimerosal four years ago and the need to get mercury out of medical products, today the official stance is to circle the wagons against mounting public and scientific criticism about its handling of the Thimerosal issue.”

I have the answer. The turn of events can easily be explained by the fact that there had been a changing of the guard under Bush since 1999. Keep in mind that the stakes were high for the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, a long time friend of the Bush gang, but also the company that invented Thimerosal.

And sure enough, evidence that Bush came through surfaced when the pharmaceutical industry was granted protection (albeit short-lived) from lawsuits from parents of children who developed autism after being vaccinated, by a provision sneakily tucked into the Homeland Security Act, at the very last minute, by Republicans who no doubt were acting under Bush's direction.

Well their little stunt didn't work because the provision was soon repealed. While the effort to repeal it was under way, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) told Wolf Blitzer on CNN, “What we have in the dead of night, a provision put in to help a pharmaceutical company or series of companies that help the parents and their rights for protecting their children right off at the knees.”

During the original final debates on the Homeland Security Bill, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) had argued forcefully for granting liability protection to makers of mercury based vaccine preservatives and said such measures were needed to boost an industry essential for public health. He is the only physician in the Senate and one of his party's leaders on medical issues, the Tennessean reported on Jan 11, 2003.

But critics of the provision didn't see it that way and accused “Republicans of tilting the legal system in favor of drug companies at the expense of autistic children,” noted the Tennessean. “Hundreds of parents have alleged in lawsuits that the vaccine preservative thimerosal caused autism in their children. Eli Lilly & Co., the preservative's chief maker, and other defendants in the suits deny the charge,” it said.

Frist's name came up more than others because he headed the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republicans’ political fund-raising arm. Critics were quick to note the large amount of money that Eli Lilly had donated to Republicans. In fact, the pharmaceutical and health products industry was the largest corporate contributor to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while Frist headed it.

And not surprisingly, Eli Lilly was one of the most generous contributors in the 2002 elections, giving about $1.4 million to federal candidates and parties, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, and three-quarters went to Republicans.

Some critics of the amendment pointed out that some top officials at Eli Lilly had close ties to the White House. I'll let the readers be the judge of whether Bush may have had less than admirable motives to allow that provision to remain in the bill. Here's a sample of people connected to the administration who have been on the Eli Lilly payroll:

* Former President George Herbert Walker Bush (one-time member of board of directors)

* George W Bush’s former director of Management and Budget, Mitch Daniels (a former vice president)

* George W Bush’s Homeland Security Advisory Council member, Sidney Taurel (current CEO of Eli Lilly)

* The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (recipient of Eli Lilly funding)

Reported by Bruce E Levine, PhD, psychologist and author of Commonsense Rebellion: Taking Back Your Life (New York-London: Continuum, 2003).

The Amendment Is Repealed

At the time of debate on repealing the provision, on Jan 3, 2003, MSNBC reported, “many parents across the nation are still fuming over four small paragraphs at the end of 475 pages designed to protect America.”

“What it did to the families is it took away their last option, literally or figuratively closed the door on their last access to the courts of justice,” said Professor Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University School of Law.

According to MSNBC, outgoing House majority leader Rep Dick Armey (R-TX) was behind the amendment and argued that if drug companies weren’t protected, they might refuse to make vaccines, a worry amid fears of bioterrorism.

To that argument I would say good! If the richest industry in the country refuses to invest a portion of its outrageous profits into finding vaccines the industry can guarantee are safe to administer to vulnerable children, then they shouldn't be in the vaccine business at all.

After listening to Dick Army, congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) was furious. Burton has a grandson who is autistic. “For anybody to say they’re proud for putting that kind of an amendment in there is just beyond me,” Burton said.

To begin with, when the provision was added to the bill, Burton said he was blindsided by Dick Armey’s last-minute addition, according to MSNBC. “Now, he can take sole responsibility for it, that’s his prerogative if he wants to, but that amendment is criminal in my opinion,” says Burton.

In the end, Frist announced a proposal to repeal the amendment. Under the repealed provision, plaintiffs involved in thimerosal litigation were forced to seek compensation out of court through a special victims fund. Under the proposal Frist agreed to, the provision would be repealed and the legal cases could proceed without interruption, the Tennessean said.
Americans Must Demand Accountability

In May 2003 the AAP stated, “All routinely recommended infant vaccines currently sold in the U.S. are free of thimerosal as a preservative and have been for more than two years.” Yet because the FDA maintained it did not have enough evidence to justify a recall of thimerosal vaccines distributed prior to the introduction of thimerosal-free versions and they were allowed to remain on the market until they became outdated. That means that poisonous vaccines were still administered until November 2002.

“Because the FDA chose not to recall thimerosal-containing vaccines in 1999,” the April 2003, House Committee on Government Reform report concludes, “in addition to all of those already injured, 8,000 children a day continued to be placed at risk for overdose for at least an additional two years.”

The public needs to rise up and demand accountability from the officials in charge of all regulatory agencies involved in concealing information that could have saved many families from the devastation caused by these ill-administered vaccines.

In order to enroll in public schools, children are forced to comply with mandatory vaccine programs, which we now know include vaccines that may not have undergone the scientific testing necessary to guarantee their safety, and have the potential to harm millions of children each year.

If families are expected to trust the Federal government's approval of vaccines, they have a right to demand that the vaccines administered are approved based on the best scientific advice possible, without the undue influence of money being handed to politicians, scientists, and the heads of the regulatory agencies by the pharmaceutical industry.

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.

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Bush Puppets Push For New Law To Protect Drug Companies

By Evelyn Pringle

Autism rates across the country have grown over 1000% since 1990, according to the National Autism Association. Autism was first diagnosed as a disorder in the 1950s. The symptoms described then are essentially the same as those used to diagnoseautism today. They may include, limited speech, impaired social interaction, and repetitive behaviors such as arm flapping. In the broader autistic spectrumof less severe cases, children may speak but have unusual behaviors and learning disabilities, or they may have high IQs but great difficulty with social interaction.

What used to be a very rare condition has now become a nationwide epidemic. The difference in the new cases of autism is that the symptoms did not appear at birth. They appeared shortly after a child received vaccinations in the second year of life.

According to the 2004 spring issue of Mother Jones Magazine, “In 2002, an estimated 1 in 250 American children was diagnosed with autism, up from 1 in 500 in 2000, and 1 in 5,000 in the 1980s.”

Research has now determined that the cause of the escalation is Thimerosal, a mercury-based product that until recently was added to childhood vaccines as a preservative in multi-dose bottles to increase profits for the drug companies that manufacture vaccines.

Over time, these Thimerosal-containing vaccines were administered to millions of children. In 2000, during a review mandated by the Food and Drug Modernization Act, it was determined that infants were receiving more mercury in the first six monthsof life than was considered safe under federal guidelines.

The review found that a twelve-to-fourteen month old child receiving vaccines under the Universal Childhood Immunization Schedule, which typically delivered four to six shots in one doctors visit, children were receiving as much asforty times the amount of mercury considered safe according to EPA guidelines. The EPA guidelines were confirmed to be accurate through an independent evaluation conducted by the National Research Council, which published its conclusion in July 2000.

During the 1990s, when some 40 million children were vaccinated, the number of Thimerosal containing vaccines given to children nearly tripled, while autism rates inexplicably increased tenfold, according to Mother Jones.

There is an indisputable correlation between the increase in autism and the increase in the amount of Thimerosal that children received during the 1990s, when the number of vaccines containing the preservative rose from less than 10 to nearly 40. Research shows that the more Thimerosal a child was given in a year, the more likely the child was to developautism or a related neurological disorder.

While for years, Thimerosal was considered to be in the category "generally recognized as safe standard” by the FDA, when the agency conducted its own Over the Counter drug review, its opinion changed. The FDA determined that mercury used as active ingredients in OTC drug products was not "generally recognized as safe." In fact, at that time, on its own Website, the FDA stated, "lead, cadmium, and mercury are examplesof elements that are toxic when present at relatively low levels."

In response to its findings, in 1999 the FDA called for the removal of all Thimerosal-containing over the counter products from the market.

However, nothing was done about the Thimerosal in vaccines. Throughout the 1990s, new vaccines continued to be added to the listof required shots for children, and the amount of mercury being injected into babies nearly tripled.

Astonishingly, as each new vaccine was added ... no one bothered to total up how many micrograms of mercury children would receive as a result. By 1999, a baby who received all recommended vaccines at her two-month checkup could be injected with up to 62.5 microgramsof mercury—118 times the EPA's limit for daily exposure, according to Mother Jones.

The magazine reports regulators “chose not to act aggressively to reduce infants' exposure to Thimerosal, and as a result TCVs mandatedfor infants remained on the US market until November 2002.”

This is ironic in view of the fact that Thimerosal was removed from animal vaccines in the early 90s. Rita Shreffler, the mother of son diagnosed with a form of autism, told Mother Jones about the time she tried to explain that her son had been vaccinated with Thimerosal to Wayne Middleton, of Middleton Microbiological & Environmental Testing Laboratory, in 2001, "When I explained that a vaccine preservative called Thimerosal had exposed babies to excessive levelsof mercury, he said that couldn't be true because he used to work for a lab that made animal vaccines, and Thimerosal had been discontinued in vaccines for cattle back in the early 1990s. He was sure it wouldn't be allowed in children's vaccines," Rita said.

Lawmakers Try To Ban Preservative

In 2002, some lawmakers did try to have Thimerosal removed from vaccines. On July 18, 2000 the House Committee on Government Reform conducted a hearing entitled, “Mercury in Medicine: Are We Taking Unnecessary Risks?” During the hearing, the FDA admitted that children were being exposed to unsafe levelsof mercury through vaccines containing Thimerosal.

However, instead of calling for the immediate removal of all Thimerosal from vaccines, the FDA chose to allow pharmaceutical companies to merely phase out their use of Thimerosal, which meant mercury-containing vaccines continued to be administered at public and private health facilities all across the country, even though an FDA witness had testified that eachof the vaccines on the Childhood Immunization Schedule was then available for use in a Thimerosal free version.

A couple months later, on October 25, 2000, Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), Chairman of the House Committee, wrote a letter to then HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, asking her get the FDA to recall all vaccines containing Thimerosal.

“We all know and accept that mercury is a neurotoxin, and yet the FDA has failed to recall the 50 vaccines that contain Thimerosal,” Burton wrote, “Every day that mercury-containing vaccines remain on the market is another day HHS is putting 8,000 children at risk,” he said. “Given that Thimerosal-free vaccines are available, and the known riskof mercury toxicity, to leave Thimerosal-containing vaccines on the market is unconscionable,” Burton added.

“I implore you to conduct a full recall of these products,” he wrote. “If the only action ... is a gradual phase out, children will continue to be put at risk every day,” Burton warned. “These vaccines will continue to be injected in childrenfor years to come -putting our nation's most vulnerable population ... at risk for mercury poisoning, he added.

Congressman Burton’s heartfelt pleas and warnings were ignored. Had our government acted on his advice, who knows how many children could have been saved fromautism.

Other Republican lawmakers are going up against their peers and leading the charge to ban the use of Thimerosal. A case in point is Senator Roy Holand (R-MO), a physician, who presented a bill to Missouri’s legislators to prohibit Thimerosal in childhood vaccines in his state. The bill passed the Missouri state Houseof Representatives by 152 to four, the biggest landslide victory in recent state history.

“As a physician, I’ve been concerned about the rising levels of autism, and the more I’ve learned about Thimerosal, the more convinced I am that it causes neurological damage,” said Holand. “Mercury has no place being injected into children.”

Senator Ken Veenstra (R-IA), who introduced a similar bill to Iowa’s Senate Human Resources Committee, put it simply: “I’ve studied Thimerosal and talked to people on both sidesof the issue. There is enough evidence I’ve seen to make it clear to me that we need to get Thimerosal out of the products we give to our children.” The Iowa senate committee voted in favor of the ban as well.

Nightmare For FDA, CDC, & Pharmaceutical Industry

For drug companies, the global market for vaccines containing Thimerosal has been a goldmine. For instance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization’s parent body, buys 40% of all vaccines used in developing countries, and Merck is its sole supplier. Merck makes Recombivax HB, a Hepatitis B vaccine that contains Thimerosal. Eli Lilly invented Thimerosal, and it has licensing agreements with drug companies in 40 countries that make the product.

However, the successful marketing of the preservative has now turned into a legal liability nightmare for drug companies, the FDA, and the CDC, since its link to autism has been confirmed.

“If current statistics hold up, over 150,000 children will be diagnosed with classic autism, and as many as 250,000 more will be diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders, and possibly 2 million more with developmental disorders, according to Mother Jones.

If vaccine manufacturers and government agencies are found liable for ... damage to millions of infants, TCV litigation could rival that of tobacco or asbestos. Currently, some 3,500 families of autistic children are slated to go before a special federal vaccine court—a step that Congress has required before they engage in any civil litigation, but one that will probably be just the first in a long legal battle, Jones reports.

“The political hurdles are the bigger problem,” claims New York Attorney Krakow, who filed a case on behalf of his autistic son. “This is so big and gets to the heart of lots of issues, like what I call the government-pharmaceutical complex,” he warns, “These kids are not going to die. They are going to live 50, 60 years and the cost will be monumental,” he said.

Krakow may be correct because records of a CDC meeting in June 2000, prove that CDC committee members knew about the dangers of Thimerosal and knew that concealing the results of a study that identified the problems could lead to lawsuits.

At the meeting, Committee member Robert Brent, a developmental biologist, voiced his concerns, "The medical/legal findings in this study, causal or not, are horrendous," Brent said. "If an allegation was made that a child's neurobehavioral findings were caused by Thimerosal-containing vaccines, you could readily find a junk scientist who would support the claim with 'a reasonable degreeof certainty.' But you will not find a scientist with any integrity who would say the reverse with the data that is available…. So we are in a bad position from the standpointof defending any lawsuits if they were initiated, and I am concerned," he added.

However, the results of the study were not released and the CDC has now been accused of colluding with the drug companies at the June 2000, meeting to prevent the release of a report that showed a link between Thimerosal and neurological disorders including Autism, ADD/ADHD, Stuttering, Tics and Speech and Language Delays, because the study’s author, Thomas Verstraeten, and other CDC employees, published a different versionof the report saying there was no link, in the Nov 2003, issue of Pediatrics.

The autism advocacy group, SAFE MINDS, obtained copies of Verstraeten’s earlier reports that were never published by filing a request for copies under the Freedom of Information Act.

The records reveal that Verstraeten’s first report in February 2000, found a significant risk for neurological developmental disorders at age 3 months, as the babies received increased amounts of Thimerosal, and that the risk of autism rose 2.48 times greater for infants getting higher amounts of the product, compared to infants who received Thimerosal-free vaccines. An earlier analysis by Verstraeten also reported a link between Thimerosal, and developmental delays in language and speech during the child’s first 6 months.

Verstraeten’s motives for concealing the damning results of his studies became highly suspect when critics learned that shortly after he gave his presentation at the June 2000 meeting, he left his job at the CDC and became employed by the vaccine maker, GlaxoSmithKline, in Belgium.

Independent Studies Of Same Government Data

Research conducted since the CDC meeting shows a definite link between Thimerosal and disorders such as autism. One of the larger studies came from an independent review of the exact same data that was analyzed by Verstraeten, contained in the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink.

Dr Mark Geier, a medical doctor with a PhD in genetics, and fellow researcher, David Geier, were the lead investigators in the discoveryof the link. The Geiers were able to use the CDC database to compare autism rates among more than 85,000 children who received a TCV for diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis, against rates of nearly 70,000 children who received the Thimerosal-free version of the vaccine. In the TCV group, the risk of autism was 27 times higher.

Which means autism developed due to TCVs has a higher connecting risk factor than the correlation between lung cancer and smoking, which according to the American Cancer Society is only 22for men and 11 for women. "This absolutely confirms what parents have been saying for years," says Jo Pike, President of the National Autism Association.

The Geiers compared children who had received varying amounts of Thimerosal. They examined the recipients of two kinds of vaccines, one containing 25 micrograms of Thimerosal, and one containing none. By comparing medical records, they were able to determine which type of vaccine each child received.

They knew that fully vaccinated children would have received four DTaP shots by the age of 18 months, which enabled them to divide the children into five groups, ranging from those who received no Thimerosal, to those who received four dosesof the preservative. Next, they searched for the International Code of Disease for autism in the children’s records to identify the number of autistic children in each of the groups.

The results of the comparison were amazing. The group of children who received no Thimerosal had no autism, while the rate of autism escalated in the other groups as the children received higher-doses of the preservative.

The kids who received 100 micrograms of Thimerosal were over 10 times more likely to have autism than the kids who received none. “At first I didn’t think it was right,” David Geier said. “I ran the program several times, and each time it turned out the same—the kids in group five were over ten times more likely to haveautism than the kids in group one,” he explained.

Bush Puppets Push For New Law To Protect Drug Companies

Under the guise of protecting Americans, Republican Senators Frist, Gregg, Sessions, DeWine, Allen, Santorum, McConnell, and DeMint have introduced bill S. 3, Protecting America in the War on Terror Actof 2005, which calls for sweeping changes in pharmaceutical product liability, vaccine regulation and policies, research and The Vaccine Injury Compensation Act.

By introducing this bill, Republicans are attempting to merge the autism issue into unrelated anti-terrorism programs.

For example, the bill includes raising the death benefit for soldiers killed in Iraq from $12,000 to $100,000, a measure every American would support. The authors of the bill knew that all Americans would support an increase in benefits for our troops, so they intentionally merged the provision to protect drug companies with the benefits provision so that any parentsof autistic children who raise objections to the bill will appear to be against our troops. Some of the parents have written letters to lawmakers about this:

“As parents and loyal Americans, however, we believe that S. 3 has been carefully crafted to unfairly paint parents who seek justicefor vaccine injured children into a political corner. Similar to the legislative sleight of hand employed in the Homeland Security Bill fiasco in 2002 the sponsors of S.3 are manipulating the political process by tying domestic programs affecting every American's health and safety to unrelated "anti-terrorism" programs. In this way they are attempting to make legitimate opposition to S. 3 politically unacceptable,” one letter reads.

Keep in mind that the drug giant Eli Lilly is the company that invented Thimerosal, and therefore, stands to lose the most. Bush and his republican puppets in Congress tried using the Homeland Security Act to protect Lilly from lawsuits in 2002, when they slipped a provision into bill at the very last minute when nobody was looking.

At that time, critics were quick to point out how much money Eli Lilly had donated to Republicans and that the drug and health products industry was the largest corporate contributor to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, while Frist was its leader.

However, other members of Congress on both sides of the isle saw the Homeland Security provision for what it was, a political pay-off to drug company contributors, and it was quickly repealed. This time around, the same members of Congress will hopefully demand that the provision be stricken before the bill is passed.

The cost of educating and caring for an autistic child over a lifetime is estimated at between $5 and $10 million. Mark Geier maintains, “One in eighty males is diagnosed withautism today. Many of them will not be able to work. How are we going to pay for their care?” he asks. Geier's prediction means it is crucial that these families get financial justice from the drug companies who caused the damage.

For autistic children, doomed to life-long suffering, the introduction of this new bill adds insult to injury. I can’t believe this corrupt band of Republicans, can have the audacity to draft this kind of legislation, and still sleep at night.

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mercury Threat To Fetus Raised

EPA Revises Risk Estimates

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer

A new government analysis nearly doubled the estimate of the number of newborn children at risk for health problems because of unsafe mercury levels in their blood. Environmental Protection Agency scientists said yesterday that new research had shown that 630,000 U.S. newborns had unsafe levels of mercury in their blood in 1999-2000.

The key factor in the revised estimates is research showing differences in mercury levels in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn children. In a Jan. 26 presentation at EPA's National Forum on Contaminants in Fish, in San Diego, EPA biochemist Kathryn R. Mahaffey said researchers in the last few years had shown that mercury levels in a fetus's umbilical cord blood are 70 percent higher than those in the mother's blood.

"We have long known that the effects of methyl mercury on the fetal nervous system are more serious" than on adults, Mahaffey said in a telephone interview yesterday. "But we did not routinely measure [umbilical] cord blood. We had thought that the mother and the fetus had the same level."

Jane Houlihan, a vice president of the Environmental Working Group, noted that the study "for the first time . . . calculated the number based on children's blood levels, not mothers'. The EPA analysis is showing that even if even if the mother is below the danger zone, she can give birth to a baby that's over the limit."

Mercury, a heavy metal, is a highly toxic substance that can seriously damage neurological tissue. Poisoning can lead to learning disabilities, lower intelligence and overall sluggishness. Fetuses, infants and young children are especially vulnerable. Recent advisories from EPA and the Food and Drug Administration have cautioned pregnant women on the dangers of eating tuna and other large predatory fish and shellfish, whose tissues absorb elevated levels of mercury.

EPA has said the largest U.S. sources of mercury contamination are coal-fired power plants, whose annual atmospheric emissions contain 48 tons of mercury. Much of it drifts into the ocean.

The Bush administration is proposing a new regulation requiring power plants to cut mercury emissions 29 percent by 2007 and 70 percent by 2018. Environmental advocates say the industry can achieve significantly deeper reductions.

Mahaffey, a top scientist in EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said she began developing her new estimates of the number of infants at risk by studying research published last year from New Jersey and Maine. The information helped her revise the formula used to extract data from a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999-2000 on mercury levels in pregnant women's blood.

The new formula showed that one out of six pregnant women had mercury levels in their blood of at least 3.5 parts per billion, sufficient for levels in the fetus to reach or surpass the EPA's safety threshold of 5.8 parts per billion. In 1999-2000, the last year for which government data are available, this meant that 630,000 children were at risk instead of the original estimate of 320,000.


A new national study conducted by the University of North Carolina shows a whopping 21 percent of all women of child-bearing age have mercury levels in their bodies that exceed federal health standards. That's almost double the rate of the last study conducted in 2000, which concluded 12 percent of women had levels which were too high. The Bush White House has relaxed mercury regulations in recent years. It also let industry lobbyists to write the regulations – the EPA's mercury emission rules, which were written this year, contained "at least a dozen paragraphs [that] were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions."

Will you join me in helping prevent mercury pollution? The EPA is now accepting public comments on mercury controls, at:


The EPA is trying to back away from strict safeguards against mercury pollution from power plants, despite the advice of its own experts and advisory panels. In December, the EPA announced a mercury plan that will expose our children to far more mercury, for far longer, than what the agency has said is achievable and cost-effective.

This should trouble all of us. The EPA’s job should be to protect kids and the rest of us from dangerous pollution.

Listen to this article Listen to this article | Posted by Becca

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A link between thimerosal and the brain: Can vaccines affect central nervous system function?

Molecular Psychiatry

According to new research from Northeastern University pharmacy professor Richard Deth and colleagues from the University of Nebraska, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins University, there is an apparent link between exposure to certain neurodevelopmental toxins and an increased possibility of developing neurological disorders including autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The research - the first to offer an explanation for possible causes of two increasingly common childhood neurological disorders - will be published in the April 2004 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, and earlier as advance online publication.

Though some speculation exists regarding this link, Deth and his colleagues found that exposure to toxins, such as ethanol and heavy metals (including lead, aluminum and the ethylmercury-containing preservative thimerosal) potently interrupt growth factor signaling, causing adverse effects on methylation reactions (i.e. the transfer of carbon atoms). Methylation, in turn, plays a significant role in regulating normal DNA function and gene expression, and is critical to proper neurological development in infants and children. Scientists and practitioners have identified an increase in diagnoses of autism and ADHD in particular, though the reasons why are largely unknown.

In their work, the scientists found that insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and the neurotransmitter dopamine both stimulated folate-dependent methylation pathways in neuronal cells. At the same time they noted that compounds like thimerosal, ethanol and metals (like lead and mercury) effectively inhibited these same biochemical pathways at concentrations that are typically found following vaccination or other sources of exposure. By better understanding what happens when infants and children are exposed to these materials, the work of Deth and his colleagues helps to explain how environmental contact with metals and administration of certain vaccines may lead to serious disorders that manifest themselves during childhood, including autism and ADHD.

"Scientists certainly acknowledge that exposure to neurotoxins like ethanol and heavy metals can cause developmental disorders, but until now, the precise mechanisms underlying their toxicity have not been known." said Deth. "The recent increase in the incidence of autism led us to speculate that environmental exposures, including vaccine additives might contribute to the triggering of this disorder."

Thimerosal, which was largely phased out in the U.S. and in Europe starting in 2000,was often used for its preservative abilities in multi-dose units of vaccines for diseases like hepatitis, whooping cough, tetanus and diptheria. Today, most vaccines carry only trace amounts of it, according to the CDC. But in larger, multi-dose vials of these vaccines, often shipped to and used in third world countries, thimerosal is still very common. Multi-dose flu vaccines still contain thimerosal.

Additionally, the scientists recently obtained more insight into the mechanism by which thimerosal interferes with folate-dependent methylation. It acts by inhibiting the biosynthesis of the active form of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin), which is of particular interest because doctors treating autistic kids are having good success with the administration of methycobalamin.

Listen to this article Listen to this article | Posted by Becca

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Gene flaw may link autism, vaccine additive

By Bob Miller
Southeast Missourian

A study released today by an environmental organization offers support to the theory that a vaccine preservative called thimerosal may contribute to the cause of autism.

The study has found a genetic flaw that sheds further light on how autistic children are metabolically different from healthy children. This may explain why autistic children may not be able to excrete mercury and other heavy metals.

Because of this finding, some doctors also believe that a relatively simple mixture of nutritional supplements may provide a dramatic treatment for autistic children.

The new 18-month autism investigation was conducted by Dr. Jill James, a former Food and Drug Administration research scientist who now works at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Her report claims that autistic children have a severe deficiency in glutathione, which James said is the body's most important detoxifier.

The Environmental Working Group, a not-for-profit organization that investigates toxicity in the environment, is using James' study as a way to petition for further thimerosal research.

Many parents and several researchers have speculated that thimerosal, which is 50 percent mercury by weight, is the culprit behind the exponential increase in autism cases over the last decade. Ten years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimated an autism rate of one in 2,500 in the United States. Today, the rate is estimated as high as one in 166. As many as one in six children have neurological disorders. Many believe the rise in autism and the corresponding increase in the nation's vaccine schedule are not coincidental.

Pharmaceutical companies removed thimerosal from required vaccines in 2002, but it still exists in most of the recommended influenza shots.

Autism theorists have for several years hypothesized that certain children are susceptible to heavy-metal toxicity, which poisons the brain.

The reports shows that autistic children have 133 percent more "inactive" glutathione in their bodies than healthy children and 68 percent less "active" glutathione.

The report also gives parents hope. Preliminary results have shown that certain supplements -- folinic acid and methyl B12 -- can bring glutathione back to normal levels.

Dr. Elizabeth Mumper, the CEO for Advocates for Children and associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Virginia Medical School, said she has seen dramatic improvements in some autistic children who have been taking the supplements.

"I don't mean to imply that we can cure autism," she said. "But in this subset, some have moved out of the [autism] spectrum and gone to kindergarten without aid."

She said the metabolic makeup of autistic adults will have to be studied, but she sees no reason why the nutritional aids won't help autistic adults as well.

'Closer and closer'

News of such a breakthrough is exciting for Dena Petzoldt of Fruitland, whose son, Ben, is autistic. Tests have shown that Ben has high levels of heavy metals, including mercury, in his blood. The family has traveled to many states to try various remedies.

"We're just getting closer and closer," she said. "There have to be answers out there because there are so many autistic kids out there. I'll definitely check into this."

James studied the metabolism of 20 autistic children. In a conference call with reporters, she explained she started with 10 plasma samples from autistic children.

The results were "very, very striking," she said. They were so consistently abnormal that she added 10 more samples to her study, just to make sure they were accurate. They came back the same.

Autism is generally regarded as a genetic and environmental mixed bag. James said the genetic causes are complex. There could be 10 genes that contribute to autism.

The new finding makes sense for a number of reasons, she said.

Glutathione levels are naturally lower in males, which could help explain why 70 percent of autistic children are boys. Estrogen, found more predominantly in females, is an antioxidant like glutathione, so girls have more chemical weapons to fight against metal toxins.

The glutathione discovery may also explain why so many autistic children have intestinal disorders.

Glutathione, according to the study, is vital to proper functioning of the intestines.

The Environmental Working Group is waving James' study in the face of the Institute of Medicine.

In May, the IOM -- an independent scientific group commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to delve into the thimerosal issue -- released a report which said there is no evidence suggesting a link between the preservative and autism. It based its findings on five epidemiology studies, including one from Denmark, which has a different vaccine schedule and thus different thimerosal exposure than the United States.

Epidemiology is a mathematical approach to science based on complicated statistics derived from medical databases.

The IOM heard but did not accept the biological evidence, which was only theoretical, the committee said. The IOM also suggested that "further research to find the cause of autism should be directed toward other lines of inquiry."

Dr. David Weldon, a congressman from Florida, has been the leading government anti-thimerosal spokesman.

"The work of Dr. James and other have continued with private support," Weldon said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the National Institutes of Health has not yet dedicated funding to better understand and develop interventions for the epidemic of children suffering from neurological development disorders, particularly those that have resulted from mercury exposures from childhood vaccines.

"Today's study, along with several other recently published scientific studies, demonstrate clearly that the IOM overstated their conclusions."

'Didn't dismiss anything'

Dr. Steve Goodman of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore sat on the IOM committee that reviewed the evidence.

He told the Southeast Missourian he couldn't speak for the IOM because the committee no longer exists, but he said there was a general feeling that thimerosal would be unlikely to turn out to be the cause of autism. However, he said some of the IOM's statements were misconstrued at the time.

"First of all, we didn't dismiss anything," he said. "We simply stated the epidemiology evidence favored no relationship, which is true. At this point there is no increased risk to the general population.

"What we did say is if you've got a fixed pot, don't spend huge amounts more on epidemiology. What we said was that resources would be better spent on understanding the biology."

For several years a certain segment of the scientific community has suspected that autistic children have a genetic susceptibility to mercury and that thimerosal could be the environmental trigger to autism. So why base a national report on five studies that don't address the theory?

"That's what we're saying," Goodman said.

He said unless the genetic flaws can be identified and a test group can be formed with the same flaws, there is no use for more epidemiology, which suggests no danger to the healthy population.

The anti-thimerosal groups have been making that same argument since May when the IOM report was released.

The IOM did admit in its report that "the committee cannot rule out, based on the epidemiological evidence, the possibility that vaccines contribute to autism in some small subset or very unusual circumstance."

Regardless, major television networks only reported the news of no link, followed by quotes from board members saying funding should be spent elsewhere. Many physicians at the time considered the thimerosal issue a closed book. And, according to a U.S. congressional source speaking on the condition of anonymity, perhaps the National Institutes of Health did too.

The National Institutes of Health has cited the IOM report when it has denied funding for biological research, the source said.

Shortly after the IOM report came out, Columbia University researcher Dr. Mady Hornig published a study showing that mice with genetically susceptible immune systems displayed autistic-like behaviors when given thimerosal.

While the Environmental Working Group acknowledges that James' research doesn't prove a link, the organization says the findings should force the government to pick up the issue again. The epidemiology studies the IOM based its report on assumed that the children had equal toxin-fighting capabilities, the EWG says.

Goodman didn't want to comment specifically on the new study until he reads it.

"This type of study could fit in a much bigger picture and enhance the understanding of autism and the immune system," he said. "It's a small piece of fabric of a theory which may or may not turn out to be true. But it doesn't mean that thimerosal causes autism. There are lots of fragments, pieces of biological evidence and theories. But those theories are still incomplete."

Listen to this article Listen to this article | Posted by Becca

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