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Introduction
Chapter I: pre-1999
There's Mercury In Vaccines?
Chapter II: 1999-2000
Simpsonwood
Chapter III: 2001
IOM: Biologically Plausible
Chapter IV: 2001-2002
CDC World Travel
Chapter V: 2003
It's Rotten In Denmark
Chapter VI: 2004
IOM slams the door (quickly)
Epilogue: present day
Better science, better kids, and a DJ
Chapter VI: 2004
IOM Slams the Door (Quickly)
"The body of epidemiological evidence favors the rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism." - March 2004, Immunization Safety Review, Institute of Medicine
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a private institution. According to their website, "the IOM's mission is to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health. The Institute provides unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large." The IOM is often requested by government institutions to weigh in on matters of public concern or issues that are controversial.
In the medical community, the IOM is viewed as having a pristine reputation and the highest ethical standards, and therefore their word is considered final on many different matters. That's why the 2004 report, dismissing the link between vaccines and autism, is so devastating for our kids. It is the "proof" so often cited by journalists that autism is not caused by vaccines, and their conclusion in 2004 inhibits Federal funding from exploring the vaccine-autism connection. And, it renders exploration of treatment for autism, like the removal of mercury from our children's bodies, moot.
Many were concerned about the likely conclusions of the IOM, including Congressman Dave Weldon (R-FL), who in this speech to the IOM prior to the release of the study, noted:
"This atmosphere of intimidation even surrounds today's hearing. I received numerous complaints that this event is not a further attempt to get at the facts but rather a desire to sweep these issues under the rug."
The 2004 IOM was a kangaroo court with a pre-ordained outcome. Unlike the CDC, the Institute of Medicine is a private institution and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The IOM Committee Members, particularly Dr. Kathleen Stratton, was apparently livid when they learned these transcripts had been leaked. She should have been profoundly embarrassed.
The Committee Members own words betray them: the fix was in. The 2004 IOM Report, so roundly cited as "proof" that vaccines don't cause autism, was tainted because:
1.  The CDC was the client and paying for the study. Here's a copy of the study parameters.
2.  The committee members made the CDC's expectations clear from the beginning. Here's a discussion between Dr. Marie McCormick, Chairman of the Committee, and Dr. Kathleen Stratton, Study Director of the Committee, BEFORE they had reviewed any of the evidence on either side of the debate:
Dr. McCormick: ...[CDC] wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis (p. 33).
Dr. Stratton: ...The point of no return, the line we will not cross in public policy is pull the vaccine, change the schedule. We could say it is time to revisit this, but we would never recommend that level. Even recommending research is recommendations for policy. We wouldn't say compensate, we wouldn't say pull the vaccine, we wouldn't say stop the program. (p. 74)
Dr. McCormick: ...we are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side effect...(p. 97)
- IOM Committee Meeting, 1/12/2001 Closed-Door Meeting Transcript
3.  The committee was largely made up of health policy advocates, who were concerned with vaccination rates, not the health of our children. There were no toxicologists or doctors of autistic children on the committee, and time was dedicated to discussing issues of vaccination policy, rather than whether or not there was evidence that vaccines caused harm. Here Dr. Stratton discusses the benefits of putting the debate to rest "no matter what" in order to allay parents concerns "to vaccinate or not vaccinate."
"I think that as Alicia just point (sic) out is I think when CDC was thinking about significance and we were thinking about, it's more is this such a concern, and the risk of putting it rest (sic), or not putting it to rest does not relate to a recommendation to change the schedule, but parent decisions and actions to vaccinate or not vaccinate. So I think it is not would there be a policy recommendation about it, but do we have reason to believe, or is even a theoretical concern that this is not put to rest. And more and more parents are going to follow this, and get involved, and stop getting immunized, therefore the risk of disease will go up. So it's not a policy recommendation that would lead to measles going up, but the true on the street worry about this. And is there a benefit to putting to rest no matter what."
- Kathleen Stratton, IOM Committee Meeting, 3/9/2001 Closed-Door Meeting Transcript, pp. 120-1 (emphases added)
4.  The committee refused to look at hundreds of case reports showing the relationship between vaccinations and autism.
Dr. Johnston: Barbara Loe Fisher [NVIC] could give you names. Mrs. Fisher said she had cases. I think she came up to say if you needed any cases to demonstrate the points, you could have them.
Dr. McCormick: She was demonstrating causality. She was taken by your case series that you did-the Guillaume Barre (sic) and whatever, the tetanus. She was all ready to get you cases to prove causality.
Dr. Wilson: Well, let's see them.
Dr. McCormick: Let's not do that. Do you have a free weekend that you want to plod through them?
- IOM Committee Meeting, 1/12/2001 Closed-Door Meeting Transcript, pp. 149 & 150 (emphasis added)
5.  The committee based their conclusions SOLELY on epidemiology: the Danish studies and the CDC's own analysis of the VSD. As Chapter 5 showed, the Danish studies were highly flawed, originated by the CDC, authored by CDC and a Danish vaccine manufacturer employees, and based on a change to the Danish database that any Ninth grade math student could understand. And, by the admission of the author of the CDC's study using their VSD data, a neutral outcome was produced, meaning it should not have contributed in any way to the IOM's conclusion. Denmark was all they had.
6.  The IOM was informed that a number of biological studies were awaiting publication, and the IOM rushed their report in ADVANCE of those studies.
The IOM refused to review any drafts of biological studies linking vaccines and autism, and rushed their report, relying solely on epidemiology, in advance of biological studies in the next twelve months from scientists at Columbia University, University of Arkansas, Northeastern University, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, and the University of Washington.
Dr. Thomas Burbacher, a professor from the University of Washington, produced compelling research demonstrating how injected Thimerosal ended up as high levels of inorganic mercury in the brains of chimps. In his study, he noted:
"A recently published IOM review (IOM 2004) appears to have abandoned the earlier recommendation [of studying mercury and autism] as well as back away from the American Academy of Pediatrics goal [of removing mercury from vaccines]. This approach is difficult to understand, given our current limited knowledge of the toxicokinetics and developmental neurotoxicity of thimerosal, a compound that has been (and will continue to be) injected in millions of newborns and infants."
The 2004 IOM Report did the opposite of its goal of putting the vaccines-autism debate to rest, it reignited parents and increased activism. In fact, it sparked the courageous FOIA requests filed by parents, completed despite some personal retaliation by the CDC and IOM, that have led to the paper trail of evidence highlighted on this site, and it sickened certain employees of the IOM enough to cause them to leak the transcripts of Committee deliberations. As Congressman Dave Weldon said in remarks to Congress soon after the report's release:
"In my 10 years of service in U.S. Congress, I have never seen a report so badly miss the mark. I have heard some weak arguments here in Washington, D.C., and I can tell my colleagues that the arguments put forward in this IOM report are indeed very weak...
Now, I had a follow-up conversation on February 3 of this year [2004] with Dr. Gerberding [head of the CDC], and she assured me that the Institute of Medicine's February meeting was not an attempt to "draw conclusions," but merely to "update the science," of where we are, basically. However, it is clear that this report draws conclusions; and what is perhaps the greatest outrage, it goes further to call for the halt of further research...
The Institute of Medicine bases their decision almost entirely on five epidemiological studies. Epidemiology is essentially the statistical analysis of disease in populations. All of these studies were conducted by researchers with an interest in not finding an association. All of the studies had significant shortcomings, all of which the IOM itself declares would miss the association with autism in a genetically susceptible subset of children...
The latest IOM report is simply part of a PR campaign, in my view."
IOM President Harvey Fineberg defended the committee in this statement, explaining that, "the members of the committee underwent a stringent review process that ensured all were free of financial conflicts of interest and were not biased for or against any vaccine safety hypothesis." Yet, these secretly obtained handwritten meeting notes reveal that many Committee members had conflicts of interest and they were openly discussed, like the notes stating "Pharma company" and "$5000 Merck" and "vaccines should be continued" and "Smith-Kline Beecham" and "American Home Products" and "financial push to approve vaccines."
The fix was in, our kids couldn't win. This is the "proof" so often written about that vaccines, and a preservative in vaccines made of mercury, do not cause autism. If you were a parent, would it feel like proof to you?
What's Egregious About This Time Period?
1.  From the beginning, the outcome of the 2004 IOM study, often cited as "proof" that vaccines do not cause autism, was pre-ordained by the CDC, as the words of the IOM Committee members demonstrate. Not only was the CDC paying for the study, but their needs were clearly stated by the Chairman of the Committee: protect the National Immunization Program.
2.  IOM Committee members rushed the report to the public, despite knowing that peer-reviewed biological studies were being published soon.
3.  The IOM Committee looked solely at epidemiological studies, notorious for their ease of manipulation. Further, the studies they based their decision on were from Denmark, where fatal flaws in the data pool used in Denmark made the results meaningless. This, despite compelling biological evidence presented to the committee by leading scientists.
4.  In an extraordinary step, the IOM recommended no further research dollars be dedicated to the vaccine-autism hypothesis.
Where is the Evidence?
1.  Conflicts of Interest: Presentation for Senatorial Inquiry
November 15, 2005
Presentation compiled for Senate Committees spelling out how the CDC constructed the IOM Committee to reach a pre-determined outcome.
This 55 page document provides a complete summary of the methodology employed by the CDC to influence the outcome of the 2004 IOM. It has been shared with key members of both the Senate and the House as of November 2005 and has never been publicly released. It summarizes:
"All the epidemiological research on links to autism and thimerosal exposure that the IOM ISR Committee cites as the basis for its final report conclusion, rejecting a causal link between thimerosal exposure and autism, was undertaken with CDC money or by researchers with close ties to the CDC."
And, this second presentation spells out in detail for the IOM Committee proceedings were managed to produce the outcome CDC was looking for including changing their charter, avoiding case reports, and disregarding biological evidence.
Source: Private Source.
2.  IOM Closed Door Committee Meeting
January 12, 2001
Leaked transcript of IOM Committee Deliberations. As a private institution, the IOM is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
This transcript, in a meeting held long before ANY evidence was reviewed; show how the conclusion had already been pre-determined by CDC:
Dr. McCormick: ...[CDC] wants us to declare, well, these things are pretty safe on a population basis (p. 33).
Dr. Stratton: ...The point of no return, the line we will not cross in public policy is pull the vaccine, change the schedule. We could say it is time to revisit this, but we would never recommend that level. Even recommending research is recommendations for policy. We wouldn't say compensate, we wouldn't say pull the vaccine, we wouldn't say stop the program. (p. 74).
Dr. McCormick: ...we are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side effect...(p. 97)
On pages 149 & 150, you see the following exchange, showing how the IOM Committee avoided looking at case studies demonstrating how vaccines caused autism in children:
Dr. Johnston: Barbara Loe Fisher [NVIC] could give you names. Mrs. Fisher said she had cases. I think she came up to say if you needed any cases to demonstrate the points, you could have them.
Dr. McCormick: She was demonstrating causality. She was taken by your case series that you did -- the Guillaume Barre (sic) and whatever, the tetanus. She was all ready to get you cases to prove causality.
Dr. Wilson: Well, let's see them.
Dr. McCormick: Let's not do that. Do you have a free weekend that you want to plod through them?
Source: Private source provided leaked transcript.
3.  IOM Committee Meeting
February 9, 2004
Transcript of IOM Committee Meeting, including multiple presentations from biological scientists.
This transcript, a lengthy 355 pages, includes presentations by six scientists showing a clear correlation between mercury and autism, including 2 scientists who were on the cusp of publishing their research. None of the information provided by these scientists was considered in the IOM's conclusion. As two examples, here is a statement provided by David Baskin, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine (p.228):
"...it is an example of a quantitative assessment of live cells from autistic individuals using molecular biological tools, and it suggests…that a subset of autistic children appear to be more sensitive than their unaffected siblings to thimerosal."
And, Boyd Haley, Ph.D., the Chair of the Chemistry Department of the University of Kentucky (p. 270):
"...there appears to be a subset of the population that cannot effectively excrete mercury, and they are at a greater risk for exposure in the general population...But the rate of autism in Denmark is somewhere -- I looked at the chart in the paper, and the highest level was around five [5 cases of autism per 10,000 children], and younger age groups it was even lower, down to less than two. In this country, I see numbers where it is 67 per 10,000. So I don't think that comparison of that piece of research is really very relevant."
Source: Institute of Medicine.
4.  Special Order by Congressman Dave Weldon, M.D.
June 18, 2004
Speech before the House of Representatives
This speech was delivered on the House floor after the IOM report was released:
"In my 10 years of service in U.S. Congress, I have never seen a report so badly miss the mark. I have heard some weak arguments here in Washington, D.C., and I can tell my colleagues that the arguments put forward in this IOM report are indeed very weak...
Now, I had a follow-up conversation on February 3 of this year [2004] with Dr. Gerberding [head of the CDC], and she assured me that the Institute of Medicine's February meeting was not an attempt to "draw conclusions," but merely to "update the science," of where we are, basically. However, it is clear that this report draws conclusions; and what is perhaps the greatest outrage, it goes further to call for the halt of further research...
The Institute of Medicine bases their decision almost entirely on five epidemiological studies. Epidemiology is essentially the statistical analysis of disease in populations. All of these studies were conducted by researchers with an interest in not finding an association. All of the studies had significant shortcomings, all of which the IOM itself declares would miss the association with autism in a genetically susceptible subset of children...
The latest IOM report is simply part of a PR campaign, in my view."
Source: Congressional Record.
5.  Email from Marie McCormick, "Injure the Nervous System"
June 9, 2004
Private email to a parent
This private email was written by Marie McCormick, Chairperson of the 2004 IOM Committee. It highlights how misused and misquoted the 2004 IOM report is, often referred to as proof that thimerosal is "safe", which the report never concluded. In it, she quotes a portion of the IOM report:
"The committee accepts that under certain conditions, infections and heavy metals, including thimerosal, can injure the nervous system."
Something that can "injure the nervous system" is not safe. Thimerosal has never been tested for safety and no proof exists that it is safe. On the contrary, there are thousands of documents in the literature that discuss its extreme toxicity, starting with thimerosal's own Material Safety Data Sheet that, amongst other things, states:
"Exposure Guidelines: Thimerosal - no known occupational limits established... Exposure to mercury in utero and in children can cause mild to severe mental retardation and mild to severe motor coordination impairment... Target Organ Effects: Mercury - Nervous system effects (insomnia, tremor, anorexia, weakness, headache), liver effects (jaundice, digestive effects (hypermotility, diarrhea)."
Thimerosal is made of mercury. Mercury is 1000x more toxic than lead. If lead were in vaccines, the world would be in an uproar because lead's toxicity is well known, and thimerosal is ONE THOUSAND TIMES WORSE. Some of the many studies documenting himerosal's extreme toxicity, at levels well below what our children receive through vaccines, include:
Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal
Uncoupling of ATP-mediated Calcium Signaling and Dysregulated IL-6 Secretion in Dendritic Cells by Nanomolar Thimerosal
Thimerosal induces neuronal cell apoptosis by causing cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor release from mitochondria
Thimerosal Neurotoxicity is Associated With Glutathione Depletion: Protection with Glutathione Precursors
Activation of Methionine Synthase by Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 and Dopamine: a Target for Neurodevelopmental Toxins and Thimerosal
Thimerosal Induces DNA Breaks, Caspase-3 Activation, Membrane Damage, and Cell Death in Cultured Human Neurons and Fibroblasts
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