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Posted by margaret on June 22, 2000 at 05:27:03:

Autism's Angel

[The following excerpted article is from the new Autism/PDD
website. This is emerging as yet another fine resource for the autism
community. If you haven’t visited it yet, you ought to drop by. –ls]

Autism's Angel in Washington, Representative Dan Burton of Indiana has
struck again, launching an investigation into the conflicts of interest
found in several members of FDA and CDC Advisory Committees which have the
power to approve or disapprove vaccines given to the children of our nation.
On Thursday, June 15, his House Committee on Government Reform held public
hearings on Capitol Hill to probe the financial ties between committee
members and the pharmaceutical industry.
In his opening statement, Rep. Burton identified, by name, several key
Advisory Committee members who held shares of stock in vaccine manufacturers
or had working relationships with them. For example, one member, Dr. Paul
Offit, personally holds a patent on a rotavirus vaccine, as well as having
received grant money from the pharmaceutical industry to help develop his
vaccine. Another member, Dr. John Modlin, Chairman of the CDC Rotavirus
working group since 1998, holds stock in Merck and serves on their
Immunization Advisory Board. Rep. Burton stated in his statement opening the
hearings that, "I was appalled to learn that at least six of the ten
individuals who participated in the working group for the rotavirus vaccine
had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies developing rotavirus
Although Federal Law prohibits conflicts of interest for government
employees, the FDA and CDC routinely grant waivers of this rule to their
working group members. These working groups meet behind closed doors and
help to determine if a new vaccine is approved for use in the United States.
In the past, some approvals have proven to be costly to the users of these
vaccines. The Rotavirus vaccine, for example was approved for use in the
United States in March 1999 and pulled from the market in October 1999
because of serious bowel obstruction problems caused in children who were
given the vaccine. These problems, according to Rep. Burton's statement,
were known during the time the vaccine was being licensed, but the approval
proceeded anyway, and on a unanimous vote it was placed on the market. Six
months later, it was removed.
Representative Burton pointed out that parents and physicians couldn’t
be confident in the decisions of the CDC and FDA when key advisors have
conflicts of interest, which may hold undue influence on their committee
votes. This is especially true since vaccines are the only drugs that the
U.S. Government mandates be given to our children. Additionally, other
countries rely on the findings of our government health organizations to
determine what is best for their citizens. America is the leader in medical
research throughout the world. As such, the world must have confidence in
the CDC and FDA to ensure that these drugs are safe and effective. Currently
that confidence is shaken, to say the least.
[Continued at:]
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