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Merck vaccine lawsuit

Merck vaccine lawsuit – implausible narrative, bad law and facts

On 19 July 2016, New York Attorney Patricia Finn filed a complaint in a federal district court against the pharmaceutical firm Merck, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Julie Gerberding (formerly director of the CDC, and currently Merck’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health). This Merck vaccine lawsuit, called Doe v Merck,  is an amended complaint that was filed on 20 July, and will be the one examined in this article.

While the complaint was filed in the name of a Jane Doe and Baby Doe, the text of the complaint made it very clear that Jane Doe is in fact Maria Dwyer, and Baby Doe is her son Colin Dwyer.  Colin Dwyer’s case was one of the test cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP) for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). The Dwyer case, like the other five test cases in the OAP, was rejected.

The Doe v Merck complaint makes two demands. First, that Merck’s license to produce the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (M-M-R®II ) be revoked.

Second, it asks for damages for Colin’s alleged vaccine injuries. The complaint is problematic from three aspects:

  1. The story it tries to tell is full of holes;
  2. as a legal matter, it makes no case; and
  3. it includes many factual inaccuracies.

In short, the Merck vaccine lawsuit is bad work.  However, the complaint is being shared widely, and a discussion of its shortcomings might be of value to many readers. Read More »Merck vaccine lawsuit – implausible narrative, bad law and facts

Vaxxed distributor threatened

Vaxxed distributor threatened Fiona O’Leary – they’re afraid of facts

On 19 July 2016, autism self-advocate Fiona O’Leary, an Irish mother of five children, two of them autistic – a powerful and long-time fighter against alternative treatments of autism and the myth that vaccines cause autism – posted a video to her Facebook page. In the 15-minute self-interview, Ms. O’Leary called out certain statements made by a team of the creators of the anti-vaccine “documentary” Vaxxed as they travel the United States, holding question and answers session with viewers. In response, the Vaxxed distributor threatened her.

What prompted Ms. O’Leary to speak out is that the Vaxxed team are forming groups to bring the film to Ireland and the UK.  On July 19, Ms. O’Leary started a petition calling on the Texas Attorney General to act against the movie and the statements by its team.  and published her Facebook video to YouTube.

On July 21, 2016 Phillippe Diaz, CEO of Cinema Libre, the company distributing Vaxxed worldwide, sent Ms. O’Leary a letter claiming that her statements were defamatory.  Also, the Vaxxed distributor threatened her with a defamation lawsuit if she didn’t stop talking about Vaxxed and its team. The team includes disgraced former scientist turned film director Andrew Wakefield, producer Del Bigtree, and their associate Polly Tommey. There is no indication a lawyer saw the letter beforehand, though an attorney is copied.

On July 22, 2016, the Australian science blogger Reasonable Hank published six of the videos from the Vaxxed team, validating Mrs. O’Leary’s claim that the Vaxxed team has indeed made the reprehensible statements. Diaz’s letter is therefore clearly an attempt to intimidate Ms. O’Leary.

She interpreted the letter as a clear attempt to intimidate, as she explains in a second video.

This post will touch on some of the legal issues.Read More »Vaxxed distributor threatened Fiona O’Leary – they’re afraid of facts

Vaxxed emotional appeal

Vaxxed emotional appeal – putting kids at risk

The Vaxxed emotional appeal, not supported by scientific evidence, can and will put kids at risk. To help those of you who will see the movie, I’ve created a flier to hand out to attendees that refutes much of the misinformation presented in the documentary.

The goal of this flier is to provide a  concise explanation of some of the problems with the movie Vaxxed, with links for those who want to delve deeper or see the support for the points made. Use it however you need to.

Some ways I think it might be useful are:

  1. If you are protesting or attending a screening and want to provide a short handout to help counter the movie’s misinformation.
  2. If you want to explain to people who have or have not seen the movie why it is not a good source of information – including friends, policy maker, or theaters considering whether to show it.

I hope this handout helps. Please also note Dawn Pedersen’s wonderful flier on the movie: More »Vaxxed emotional appeal – putting kids at risk

Robert De Niro talks vaccines

Robert De Niro talks vaccines – misinformation and ignorance

I guess this story won’t die. After the huge kerfuffle with respect to the fraudumentary, Vaxxed, you’d think that I wouldn’t have to read anything where Robert De Niro talks vaccines – but alas, he is still pontificating on vaccine issues where he clearly is clueless.

In case you were on a trip to Ceti Alpha V, missing the whole Vaxxed/Tribeca Film Festival/Robert De Niro story, here’s a quick review:

So that should be the end of the story, right? Those of you who follow the anti-vaccination world understand that a story never really dies. It just becomes a zombie meme.

Read More »Robert De Niro talks vaccines – misinformation and ignorance

Andrew Wakefield

Andrew Wakefield – dishonest attempt at self-justification

The movie Vaxxed is an anti-vaccine polemic that claims, despite all of the high quality contradictory evidence, that there is a link between the MMR vaccine, for mumps, measles and rubella, and autism. Furthermore, it claims that the US government is engaging in a conspiracy to hide said link. Reviews of the film have appropriately emphasized the checkered past of its director, Andrew Wakefield, a discredited ex-scientist with a history of misrepresentations. Many of the reviews point out that Wakefield is not a credible source for information on vaccines.

In a recent video posted on the Vaxxed website, Andrew Wakefield took those claims head on, mounting a passionate defense of his reputation. If anything, however, this video further shows that Wakefield is not a good source of information.

The video’s claims range from unsupported (and implausible) to blatantly false. Unfortunately for Wakefield, Brian Deer meticulously documented each step in the events, making it relatively easy to identify the problems in these claims. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Wakefield’s adherents are unlikely to check his claims, and others may also accept his word without fact-checking. It’s therefore worth going through the claims.

To hear Wakefield, he was the victim of a conspiracy mounted because he dared raise safety concerns about vaccines. But as with his book, Callous Disregard (pdf), Wakefield’s claims are ill founded. In short, there are good reasons he lost his license and his reputation as a serious scientist.

A brief review of the history of this story – in 1998, Wakefield and co-authors published a paper suggesting that the measles component of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine caused changes in some children’s guts, and that those changes were associated with autism.

In 2007, after extensive investigation by Brian Deer published at The Sunday Times, Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) opened an investigation of their own to answer the question: Did Wakefield engage in serious professional misconduct?  In May 2010, the GMC found that yes, he did, and removed Wakefield from the British medical register (pdf).

Wakefield’s claims in the Allegations video can be put into three categories:

  1. there were no serious ethical violations or fraud in relation to the article he published in the Lancet;
  2. he’d done nothing wrong otherwise, measles outbreaks are not his fault, the GMC decision was generally wrong, and Walker-Smith’s acquittal shows that; and
  3. Brian Deer’s articles are a fraud motivated by a conspiracy.

None of these claims hold water.

Read More »Andrew Wakefield – dishonest attempt at self-justification

autism and vaccinations

Autism and vaccines are not correlated in 1.3 million child study

If you were paying attention to this website over the past couple of weeks, you’d know that the actor Robert De Niro has come out as a vaccine denialist – he thinks that autism and vaccinations are somehow linked, despite the robust and broad scientific evidence that they are not correlated.

The return of this zombie manufactroversy, and De Niro’s involvement, arises from the inclusion of the anti-vaccination fraudumentary, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy, at the Tribeca Film Festival. And if you’re unfamiliar with the fraudumentary, it is from the cunning swindler, Mr. Andy Wakefield who attempted to “prove” that autism and vaccinations are linked, by inventing a so-called CDC whistleblower incident and other outright lies. If you are interested, you can read about this movie here, here, and here.

I cannot say this enough – if you know nothing more than just the basics about autism and vaccinations, then your education about it should start with Mr. Wakefield who perpetrated one of the greatest scientific frauds in the history of mankind (and that’s not an exaggeration).

Mr. Wakefield published a paper, subsequently withdrawn by the highly respected medical journal, Lancet, that blamed the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) for causing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Brian Deer, a respected journalist at the medical journal, BMJ, wrote extensively about Wakefield’s despicable deceit which you can read herehere, and here. Basically, Deer uncovered the massive fraud by Wakefield, which included things like working for attorneys who were suing MMR manufacturers and trying to patent his own version of the measles vaccine. Of course, this hasn’t stopped Wakefield from unsuccessfully suing Deer and BMJ several times.

As a result of Wakefield’s disinformation, some of the most dangerous outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can be laid at the feet of Wakefield, as parents started to refuse to vaccinate their children against these diseases. And of course, billions of dollars, money that could have been spent on actually treating and assisting children with ASD, was spent to investigate this claim, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers completely dismissing and debunking any link between any vaccine and any type of autism.

Let me make this abundantly clear– the vaccines cause autism myth has never been supported by real science even when we looked hard for evidence.

Read More »Autism and vaccines are not correlated in 1.3 million child study
Anti-vaccine Robert De Niro follows Jenny McCarthy

Anti-vaccine Robert De Niro morphs into Jenny McCarthy

I thought this story was dead and buried. The Tribeca Film Festival, Robert De Niro’s baby, was going to show the fraudulent documentary (hereinafter, fraudumentary) from the epic fraud himself, MrAndy Wakefield’s, fraudulent anti-vaccination movie “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy.” Suddenly, the anti-vaccine Robert De Niro has jumped back into the discussion about pseudoscientific link between vaccines and autism.

To quote De Niro’s co-star from the Godfather movies, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone famously stated, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

I guess I’m being pulled back in.

Read More »Anti-vaccine Robert De Niro morphs into Jenny McCarthy

vaxxed by andrew wakefield

In memoriam – fraudumentary Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield

Late last week the fraudumentary (my portmanteau of fraudulent documentary, you can thank me in the comments), Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield was going to be a part of the Tribeca Film Festival, then got support from Robert DeNiro, then got trashed by everyone as being old news, then was pulled from the film festival.

Various anti-vaccination activists whined about all kinds of things, including various conspiracy theories, complaints about censorship (without really knowing what censorship means), and just about anything else you could name.

Unless you were living under a rock (and I’d have to ask why), this kerfuffle seemed to have exploded in an instant and disappeared within a couple of days. I think it was the unified indignation of nearly every science writer on the planet that convinced Tribeca to cut bait and run (I’m really on my game for clichés).

I mean it really wasn’t that hard.  MrAndy Wakefield is a fraud – period. Vaccines and autism are unrelated according to all of the high quality epidemiological research – period. And the so called CDC Whistleblower manufactroversy (another invented portmanteau, just to be thorough), a key part of the film, was really much adieu about nothing.

And that whistleblower has stated over and over again, he strongly recommends that all children get vaccinated according to the CDC schedule. Let that sink in.

I’ll but this into terms that should be clear to any reader. Vaxxed is, was, and forever shall be pure, organic, GMO-free, derived from virgin cows, BULLSHIT.

But like most bullshit, the stink doesn’t go away very fast. Let’s see what happened.

Read More »In memoriam – fraudumentary Vaxxed by Andrew Wakefield