But CBS News has found these three have something more in common – strong financial ties to the industry whose products they promote and defend.
The vaccine industry gives millions to the Academy of Pediatrics for conferences, grants, medical education classes and even helped build their headquarters. The totals are kept secret, but public documents reveal bits and pieces.
- A $342,000 payment from Wyeth, maker of the pneumococcal vaccine – which makes $2 billion a year in sales.
- A $433,000 contribution from Merck, the same year the academy endorsed Merck’s HPV vaccine – which made $1.5 billion a year in sales.
- Another top donor: Sanofi Aventis, maker of 17 vaccines and a new five-in-one combo shot just added to the childhood vaccine schedule last month.Every Child By Two, a group that promotes early immunization for all children, admits the group takes money from the vaccine industry, too – but wouldn’t tell us how much.A spokesman told CBS News: “There are simply no conflicts to be unearthed.” But guess who’s listed as the group’s treasurers? Officials from Wyeth and a paid advisor to big pharmaceutical clients.Then there’s Paul Offit, perhaps the most widely-quoted defender of vaccine safety.He’s gone so far as to say babies can tolerate “10,000 vaccines at once.”
- This is how Offit described himself in a previous interview: “I’m the chief of infectious disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at Penn’s medical school,” he said.Offit was not willing to be interviewed on this subject but like others in this CBS News investigation, he has strong industry ties. In fact, he’s a vaccine industry insider.
Offit holds in a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children’s Hospital, funded by Merck. He holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine he developed with Merck, Rotateq, which has prevented thousands of hospitalizations.
And future royalties for the vaccine were just sold for $182 million cash. Dr. Offit’s share of vaccine profits? Unknown.
There’s nothing illegal about the financial relationships, but to critics, they pose a serious risk for conflicts of interest. As one member of Congress put it, money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of those who hold themselves out to be “independent.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Every Child By Two and Dr. Offit would not agree to interviews, but all told us they’re up front about the money they receive, and it doesn’t sway their opinions.
Today’s immunization schedule now calls for kids to get 55 doses of vaccines by age 6.
Ideally, it makes for a healthier society. But critics worry that industry ties could impact the advice given to the public about all those vaccines.
Thank you for this piece. As a physician, trained at an Ivy league medical school and residency, I am acutely aware of how ties to the pharmaceutical industry influence almost every level of teaching, training and research. This is done by sponsoring educational events, supporting the academic salaries of professors, and by giving research grants, thereby driving research agendas. Pharma also influences physicians directly, which is currently being investigated by Propublica. The influence of corporate pharmaceutical financial motivations cannot be underestimated and it is a piece of our medical system that ordinary citizens simply do not understand. This plays out in several ways with regard to the vaccine industry. First, SCIENTIFIC STUDIES and DATA (published in mainstream, peer-reviewed journals) that suggest serious safety concerns with vaccines are simply ignored and not integrated into public policy recommendations. Second, vaccine safety studies are woefully inadequate and often conducted by the pharmaceutical industry–those studies cherry pick the healthiest children, administer only one vaccine, and follow children for a matter of days. Third (this is related to the second point), vaccines have never been studies in combination and certainly never studied in combinations of 4-5 vaccines at a time, the way they are administered today. NEVER EVER. This is important for several reasons: the immune system is more complex than we had ever imagined when vaccines were developed and the immune system intersects with immune and neuroimmune system in important ways, so stimulating the immune system this intensely has implications. In addition, we know from toxicology studies that toxins act synergistically, so that metals (aluminum and sometimes mercury) as well as preservatives (some of them known cancer-causing agents) may, in combination, produce a toxic burden that some children are not able to clear. There is ANIMAL DATA to support neurotixic effects of current vaccination protocols. Data that has been ignored by policy makers. Those of us who rightfully questions the safety of current vaccination policy are often denigrated (see comments above) but I assure you my concerns are based in SCIENCE, not only data about adverse outcomes in animals and HUMANS (autoimmune reactions, narcolepsy, developmental issues) but also about the emerging complexity of the immune and inflammatory systems. I hope this investigation continues. Finally, I would like to add that many many physicians share my concerns about vaccination but feel constrained to speak out in academic circles. This is the ultimate compromise of true science and free thinking. Questions should be asked, investigated and answered. To that end, studies of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated outcomes are imperative as are more studies about vaccine safety (a conclusion the Institute of Medicine made in their last position paper on vaccination, where they noted that the current vaccination schedule had never been studied).