J.B. Handley's brilliant takedown of yesterday's crackpot NYTimes op-ed, by Melinda Wenner Moyer, on "anti-vaccine activists" and their shattering effect on "vaccine science." https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
08/04/opinion/sunday/anti- vaccine-activists-have-taken- vaccine-science-hostage.html MCM
BY J.B. HANDLEY August 6, 2018
Underneath one of the more absurd cause-and-effect conjectures ever undertaken by a reporter lies a treasure-trove of truth about vaccine safety science. If the study results implicate vaccines, scientists are pressured to suppress.
NEW YORK, New York—I just got finished reading Melinda Wenner Moyer’s Op-Ed in the New York Times, Anti-Vaccine Activists Have Taken Vaccine Science Hostage, and I must say that was one of the more unusual and contradictory pieces of journalism I’ve ever read in my time as an autism activist. While a casual reader may in some way leave the article thinking that “anti-vaccine activists” are ruining the party for everyone, I think many more will leave puzzled, confused, and suspicious.
On the one hand, Ms. Moyer tries to convince her reader of one of the more preposterous cause-and-effect relationships I’ve ever seen. Namely, she wants you to believe that the reason scientists studying the safety of vaccines are scared to publish negative results is because anti-vaccine activists will exaggerate or spin the results and scare the public. This strains credulity to the point that I think if you surveyed 1,000 people and asked this question:
You’d get 997 people to choose “A” and three people—Ms. Moyer, Dr. Paul Offit, and Dr. Peter Hotez—would choose “B.” The pharmaceutical industry is the most financially powerful and ruthless commercial opponent the world has ever seen. I know that sounds dramatic, but consider the recent news that pharmaceutical executives knowingly conspired to create an opioid addiction epidemic. In their compelling critique, “The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market,” Harvard medical scholars Ameet Sarpatwari, Michael S. Sinha, and Aaron S. Kesselheim put the behavior of pharmaceutical companies in painful relief:
Finally, to boost profits, pharmaceutical companies have often engaged in false or misleading marketing. Over the past twenty-five years, the industry has paid $35.7 billion to settle claims of illegal marketing, including making false or misleading claims or failing to disclose known risks. In 2012, for example, GlaxoSmithKline paid three billion dollars to settle civil claims and criminal charges that it downplayed the risk of the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) in adolescents, promoted the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) for unapproved uses, and hid data showing the increased risk of heart attacks from the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia). Although the then-largest healthcare fraud settlement in US history, the total penalty was “only a portion of the drug maker’s profits from the drugs involved.” Almost every major pharmaceutical company has been caught in similar marketing scandals. However, the industry remains highly profitable, supporting criticism that monetary penalties generally represent “a quite small percentage of . . . global revenue and often a manageable percentage of the revenue received from the product under scrutiny.”
Lest you think Big Pharma’s rapacious behavior is confined to the marketing of their products, worry not, we see a similar dangerous pattern of behavior for how Big Pharma manages scientific studies. In 2010, German scientists at the highly-respected and independent Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) published a study titled, “Reporting bias in medical research – a narrative review.” None of it will surprise you, here’s a small sample:
“The numerous examples identified show that reporting bias concerns not only previously highlighted therapies such as antidepressants, pain medication, or cancer drugs, but affects a wide range of indications and interventions. Many cases involved the withholding of study data by manufacturers and regulatory agencies or the active attempt to suppress publication by manufacturers, which either resulted in substantial delays in publication (time-lag bias) or no publication at all…Published evidence tends to overestimate efficacy and underestimate safety risks. The extent of misestimation is often unknown.”
Reporting on the widely-read German study, journalist Jeremy Hsu noted:
“Oftentimes, medical journals or pharmaceutical companies that sponsor research will report only ‘positive’ results, leaving out the non-findings or negative findings where a new drug or procedure may have proved more harmful than helpful.”
Do you understand what Ms. Moyer is trying to get you to believe? She’s claiming that scientists really WANT to publish studies that might show the dark side of vaccines but they’re AFRAID, not because of the most ruthless industry the world has ever seen, but because parents like me will take that science, misinterpret it, and scare the public. She writes:
Melinda Wenner Moyer
“It’s understandable for scientists to be nervous. The internet has made it easy for anti-vaccine activists to mislead.”
Let me tell you a quick story. I had an inside seat watching the scientists of the first vaccinated-unvaccinated study ever done try and find a scientific journal that would publish their results. These were scientists who had published dozens of studies. It took several years. Many scientific journals turned the study down, some quietly citing “pressure” as the primary reason. The university where the researchers worked got nervous. Everyone was scared. Did any of the journals that declined the study or the university fellows fear “anti-vaccine activists”? No, they didn’t.