Paul Offit responds to the press release by NAA (and carried by AoA)

On the 8th, NAA sent out a press release rehashing the same misinformation that AoA habitually runs (it's almost like they got it right from them and Wakefield. They probably did). AoA picked it up and ran with it, and I spent a fair portion of my day trying to figure out who NAA was as well as mount an adequate rebuttal. I don't know that it's an adequate rebuttal, but it is what I can do.

I appreciate the researchers who work tirelessly in labs trying to figure out ways to save lives. I admire the diligence and commitment it takes to work for over two decades on one vaccine because you believe in it that strongly. Now, I don't reach the level of adoring fan like Wakefield's groupies apparently do (if you saw the Friday morning piece on the Today show before the Sunday Dateline, you know what I'm talking about), but I'm not a groupie kind of gal. Maybe those women are. My point is, this isn't blind adoration speaking. I've read Dr. Offit's books, all of them, because I wanted to know more about vaccines (read those first), and I read Autism's False Prophets, as well, because I wanted to see what he'd found out.

For most of my son's (who will be 20 this year) life, I have been focused on HIM. I homeschooled him for ten years, I spent the years before that often all day in the school system with him. He was the center of my world as I worked with him to help him. I didn't join support groups; I didn't talk to a lot of parents with autistic children. My husband and I labored alone for the most part. I wasn't desperate; I was determined. I read everything I could on autism, mostly the science because I am so not into the woo. If it was woo, I stayed away from it. Until March of this year when I realized how much was out there.

Why did I start looking, now, after all these years? My daughters are on the spectrum as well. They are 12 and 14 years younger than their brother and it seemed like I needed to see what was out there. Especially since I have students who ask about vaccines and autism. I delved deep into the science of it, and then into the woo. Not all the woo, mostly the easy access free stuff at Huff and AoA and like autism organizations. Gods, but there is a frakload of woo out there. And really nasty behavior on the part of the woo-ites. Like the threats that Dr. Offit receives. Not acceptable behavior period.

So, when this stuff hit, I emailed Dr Offit to ask if he'd like to rebut this latest round of trash talk. And, thankfully, he did.

Run with the permission of Dr. Offit:

Dear Kim,

Thanks for the support. At some point those who believe that vaccines cause autism will realize that I'm not their problem. The data are their problem. But I guess, absent supportive data, it's easier and more satifying to attack me (I would also like to point out that I didn't do any of these studies that exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism; I just explain them to the media).

Although it might sound crazy, I take some solace in the fact that those who oppose vaccines continue to get the facts wrong. It's somewhat reassuring to know that they hate me for the wrong reasons. And the Huffington Post blog by James Moore, a well-respected journalist, is completely off the mark. I would have expected more.

1) I am not a paid consultant to Merck.

2) I never "voted myself rich" while I was on the ACIP. RotaTeq came up for a vote in 2006, three years after I was no longer a voting member. And even if I were a member, I wouldn't have been allowed to vote. Further, I consistently declared my potential conflict. Although some people may find this hard to believe, I'm actually proud to be the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine and was more than happy to declare this at the beginning of every meeting.

3) What (the hell) does being the co-inventor of a vaccine have to do with standing up for the science of vaccine safety. It certainly doesn't affect my financial position one way or the other. I do it because I think that children are getting hurt by all of this (the same reason I went into pediatrics and worked on vaccines). The logic of the anti-vaccine folks escapes me here. Let me see if I've got this right; I invent a vaccine that can save as many as 2,000 lives a day so that I can make money so that I can lie about vaccine safety so I can hurt children.

4) I do not receive salary support or laboratory support from the Hilleman endowed chair. Five percent of that endowment does go to support members of our division, but not me.

5) I never received one penny of the $350,000 claimed in the Burton report. All of that money went to Dr. Fred Clark. I was totally supported by grants to NIH.

I really do appreciate your support, Kim. Few seem to be willing to stand up for me. And it does occasionally get me down. But mostly it just makes me angrier and more determined to hang in there.



kathleen said...

Another great post Kim. Dr. Offit, it is easier to hate a person rather than an idea-or science. In other words-by attacking you-they are able to direct their vitriol towards something they can see-something tangible..i.e., your face. Please know this-you have more supporters than you know. It just that when we come to your defense at the places that speak against you i.e. AoA, huffpo etc. our voices are silenced by moderators. That is why we all have our own blogs-and especially why Kims blog is so very important.So please hang in there-we need you.
Kim, I worked in professional theatre long enough to understand what the "wakefield groupies" were. It is called "papering an audience" In other words, when producers are trying to get a show off the ground-and they have invited critics...they give out free tickets to as many people as they can-thus insuring a full house. It looks better. I would bet money that some woo group got it in their wee little heads to email everyone and anyone, in order to make sure people were at that taping.

Mom26children said...

The AoA and TH crowd are notorious for starting email campaigns. Funny thing, the majority of the people who actually send the emails use the form letter ( I assume because they have no imagination of their own ), and the people they are trying to get a reaction from, just get put off by the over load of the emails.
Mob mentality...

Club 166 said...

Why, I can't believe that NAA or AoA would get any of their facts wrong about Dr. Offit. I mean, their reputation for impeccable scientific documentation of their pie in the sky theories is legendary. (/sarcasm)

When one resorts to name calling and unsubstantiated mud-slinging, it only highlights the total lack of having any facts on your side.


Anonymous said...

Dr Offit: Thank you for your vaccine work. My children didn't get any of the rotovirus vaccines as they didn't exist when mine were little. And how I wished they had when they got it!

Sullivan said...

I have discussed this press release in an upcoming post where I link to your post:

I find it beyond disingenuous that they framed this as being about the integrity of the swine flu vaccine. NAA and Dr. Wakefield are such strong supporters of the H1N1 vaccine...

I also note in my post that the royalty payout to Dr. Offit from CHOP was grossly overestimated by Misters Blaxill and Olmsted.

I thought I would give them the chance to do the right thing, so I gave them information about their mistake ahead of publishing the piece. They declined the opportunity to make the correction.

The $6M quoted in David Brown's piece (http://counteringageofautism.blogspot.com/2009/09/paul-offit-explains-money-side-of.html) was easily estimated given information available to Misters Blaxill and Olmsted at the time they made their blog post.

Foresam said...

While AoA and NAA ignore the autism that will be caused by the mercury in the swine flu shots, they serve Pharma by bashing Offit and distracting the public from the real danger.
Thanks for bashing these groups so the public might look elsewhere for useful information.